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State Police To Aid City Again

Troopers Will Boost Patrols To Fight Crime And Violence

June 24, 2005
By MATT BURGARD, Courant Staff Writer

In the midst of another outbreak of gun violence in Hartford, state police are coming to help restore order.


"These troopers are here so much, we might as well just hire them full-time," said Steven Harris, a former city council member and community activist. He welcomed the news that state police would be joining Hartford officers in patrolling city neighborhoods beginning July 1.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell announced Thursday that an unspecified number of state troopers and detectives would be deployed to help Hartford police crack down on a continuing wave of shootings and other gun-related crimes this year.

This would be the third time in five years that state police have been assigned to help patrol the city.

The governor said the deployment would play a part in the Hartford Police Department's newly launched Northeast Violence Reduction Initiative, a stepped-up enforcement plan aimed at eliminating guns and drugs from violence-plagued neighborhoods in the North End. Neither she nor state police spokesman Sgt. Paul Vance would say how long the state police effort in Hartford might last.

So far this year, the city has seen an increase of more than 50 percent in the number of shootings and shooting victims compared with the same time last year, while gun killings have almost doubled over the same period. More than half of the city's shootings and gun homicides this year have taken place in the Upper Albany, Clay Arsenal and Northeast neighborhoods in the North End, where police plan to beef up patrols and intensify drug and gun investigations.

"The violence in Hartford in the last few weeks has been nothing short of horrific," Rell said. "The worst of it is that often children are killing other children. Enough is enough. Working with Mayor [Eddie] Perez, Hartford police, community groups and concerned residents, we are determined that the peaceful, law-abiding people of this city will no longer be terrorized by an outlaw minority."

Hartford police officials said they appreciated Rell's offer to complement their initiative with additional manpower.

"I wish to thank Gov. Rell for her support and commitment to the capital city," said Police Chief Patrick Harnett. "This is another resource that will help our efforts to crack down on gun and drug trafficking in the city, and we will hit the ground running."

Similar state police efforts took place in 2001 and 2003, after which the city saw immediate decreases in violent crime.

"I don't know if it's just a coincidence, but when the state police come in here, things seem to calm down," Harris said.

Many Hartford officers have privately complained that the state police assistance provides the city an excuse to avoid hiring more full-time officers, which they say would provide a more permanent solution to gun violence. The department has about 430 sworn officers.

But the state police deployment promises to provide a financial windfall for many Hartford officers because of a stipulation in their union contract. Under the terms of the contract, all uniformed officers from outside law enforcement agencies who are assigned to patrol Hartford must have a city police officer working as their partner. The Hartford officers assigned to work with the troopers must be paid at an overtime rate, or one and a half times their hourly wage, under the terms of the contract.

Perez said the state police deployment could end up costing the city about $250,000 in overtime, depending on how long the deployment lasts and how much assistance the city might receive from state funding and federal grant sources.

"We're going to turn every rock because I need every public safety dollar we can get," he said. "We are going to comply with the contract."

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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