Web Sites and Documents >> Hartford Courant News Articles >

Police Set Sights On Motorists, Traffickers

July 7, 2005

On the first day of a highly touted effort to combat gun crime in Hartford, a team of four state police troopers and four Hartford officers set up a checkpoint at a North End intersection for more than an hour Wednesday, stopping motorists to check for safety violations.

The new checkpoints - the most visible of several tactics police are using - are an effective way to heighten police visibility in troubled neighborhoods while discouraging gunplay, officials said. While ticketing motorists for failing to wear seat belts or other violations, police also search for drugs and weapons, they said.

State police spokesman Sgt. J. Paul Vance said the checkpoints are a common tactic for combating outbreaks of crime in neighborhoods.

"It's a good deterrent and a good investigative tool," he said.

In addition to the small contingent of troopers manning the checkpoint at the "Five Corners" intersection on Westland Street, the state police have sent in detectives to Hartford to help root out drug and gun trafficking, officials said.

Though police officials would not say how many state troopers have been assigned to the crackdown in Hartford, sources in both agencies said the total was fewer than a dozen uniformed troopers and undercover detectives. That is much lower than in previous summers when state police helped crack down on violent crime in the city.

State police are trying to keep overtime costs down, Vance said.

"We took them from where we could afford to take them," he said.

Commanders from the state and Hartford police met Wednesday morning to discuss strategies for the troopers, but officials declined to give specifics about their crackdown.

"We are not going to telegraph our [strategy] to the people who are conducting criminal activity," Hartford police spokeswoman Nancy Mulroy said.

The arrival of the state police comes two weeks after Hartford police launched an initiative in the Clay-Arsenal, Upper Albany and Northeast neighborhoods to combat a spike in shootings and gun murders. That effort, which includes foot patrols on troubled streets and stepped-up raids on drug houses and gun dealers, has led to the arrests of 258 people on felony charges and 84 others on lesser offenses, Mulroy said. In the past week, Hartford police have not responded to any shootings in the city, they said.

While some residents said they appreciated the visibility of Wednesday's checkpoint, others complained that it resulted in petty harassment of motorists for minor offenses.

"I can understand what they're trying to do, but I'm not part of the gun problem up here," said Katrina Jackson, 20, of Manchester, who was ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt after being stopped at the checkpoint.

Kimberly Thomas-Amos said she moved from Hartford to Massachusetts seven years ago because of the city's crime problems, but she recently agreed to let her 16-year-old daughter spend the summer at her mother's home in the North End.

"I guess she's going to be OK as long as all these police are out here," Thomas-Amos said while walking past the checkpoint.

Petrina Stewart, a longtime resident on Martin Street, where two young people were shot and killed in the past two months, said she has noticed a difference since the Hartford police initiative began.

"It's been great," Stewart said. "The only shooting sounds last weekend were the Fourth of July fireworks. The police are everywhere."

Shootings and gun murders have risen by 50 percent this year over the same period a year ago. That was on the minds of many in the North End as they watched the police in action.

"It's actually helping bring customers because people feel safer coming out of their homes," said Anthony Rojas, an employee at the Baez Mini Market at the corner of Westland Street and Love Lane. "Things were getting bad with all the violence, but it's quiet now."

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.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
Powered by Hartford Public Library  

Includes option to search related Hartford sites.

Advanced Search
Search Tips

Can't Find It? Have a Question?