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
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.
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