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Hartford Officials Pleased With Police Crackdown On Quality-Of-Life Issues

JULIE STAGIS

August 21, 2009

HARTFORD - Hartford officials are pleased with the results of this summer's crackdown on quality-of-life disturbances, they said Thursday.

A $100,000 initiative has helped increase police enforcement of complaints about noise, street racing and loitering.

Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts said that although the police department focuses on fighting major crimes, a lot of its success including a 16 percent decrease in shootings compared with last summer starts by eradicating the smaller issues.

The most common quality-of-life complaint is noise, according to Roberts. The city council recently adopted a new noise ordinance that is easier to enforce, he said.

As a result, the number of citations for noise disturbances issued by the police department increased from less than 100 earlier this year to 800 by the end of the summer, according to Mayor Eddie A. Perez.

Community leaders said they were happy with the efforts by police.

"This is the backbone of quality of life," said Marilyn Rossetti, executive director of Hartford Areas Rally Together (HART). "Noise is the tipping point. It affects someone's life. This is a great move, great strategies."

Hartford is refusing to tolerate things that wouldn't be acceptable in other cities, Rossetti said.

Carl Williams, co-chairman of the Southend Neighborhood Revitalization Association, said that although he thinks the city is making progress, "it just never ends."

Noise and anti-blight ordinances help, Williams said, but problems like graffiti are harder to control.

"Graffiti is a big issue [in the South End]. They try to keep up with it, but these guys are doing it in the wee hours of the morning," and once it's cleaned up, they just do it again, said Williams.

Others are not as satisfied with police efforts.

Gregory Sims, president of a motorcycle club that he declined to name, said he wants local law enforcement to take a more proactive approach rather than a reactive one. He said he feels that efforts to curb street racing are heavy-handed, with police officers ticketing excessive numbers of riders for offenses that Sims thinks police "dig deep" for.

He has contacted city council members to try to devise a program for motorcycle safety.

"The manner in which they're doing it is not the correct manner," he said. "They're running people out of Hartford for now, but what's the long-term effect?"

Hartford originally hoped to get $1 million from the state for the quality-of-life initiative, but with no state budget in place yet, Sen. John W. Fonfara was able to secure only $100,000.

Fonfara said he wanted Hartford police to be able to provide the services that residents deserve.

"Many never have to call the police department, but when they do, it's often for things like noise or street racing," he said. "The one time they make that call and the police department is too busy and they come three hours later and the party's over it's demoralizing."

"[We hope to] use the results of this as a model to ask the legislature for funding for a full-fledged program that isn't just a few months in the summer, that's year-round and all over Hartford," Fonfara said.

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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