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Wednesday, June 2, 2010


In my opinion, and the opinion of many people I speak with, the one major issue keeping Hartford from any significant turn around is the perception of crime and public safety in Hartford.

I like Chief Roberts, I think he is an honest man who really cares about the city he was raised in. I know that he is constantly being told to do more with less. He has many empty promises made to him by Mayor Perez. The most notable probably being the false promises of hiring new officers. At the rate that new officer's are being funded, the Hartford Police Department is just barely keeping up with attrition.

The staffing levels could also jeopardize stimulus funding that has been given to the City for new officers. Under the contract, HPD and the City of Hartford committed to maintaining the number of sworn Police Officers at 460 minimum. Police sources familiar with the numbers tell me that by years end the number of officers could be well below that and jeopardize the stimulus funds.

A few things that really make me wonder about the Perez Administrations commitment to Public Safety in Hartford are quite obvious. One recent example is yesterdays posting about the conditions at the Southend Police substation on Maple Avenue. The are covered by this substation, the Southeast District of the city has seen some of the most impressive numbers in crime reduction and stability for the entire city.

These improvements haven't just happened by luck. A new lieutenant was assigned to the area and strong accountability was put into place. This also was accomplished by building a strong team effort by the officers working in the district. That can only be done by building morale among the officers, and forcing them to work in an office with no heat or air conditioning, to me, doesn't build or maintain morale.

The solution to that situation is simple, a directive from the Mayor to the Public Works Director... get it fixed and get it fixed immediately. I guess that might take some leadership and we all know who is Mayor.

And if you want to talk about morale, how about the carrot on the stick that keeps getting dangled in front of members of the Department. A new state of the art Public Safety Complex that was started at least 5 years ago, if not more, and is now further behind than it ever was.

I remember the first groundbreaking was held years ago under the administration of Chief Harnett. Then the second "groundbreaking" was again held toward the end of the tenure of Chief Harnett. Then the third "groundbreaking" was held under the tenure of Chief Roberts. For those that recall, Chief Roberts wasn't at that dog and pony show because it was shortly after his public comments that Hartford had a "toxic relationship" with itself and we had "lost our moral compass" and he was not in good favor with Perez.

Now, several million dollars later, the new Public Safety Complex is a pile of rubble and a testament to the Perez Administration's commitment to Hartford's Public Safety.

These things all add up to a total lack or respect and no effort to build morale in the Police Department. But one of the most glaring issues that confirms that Perez just doesn't give a damn , is really a simple fix.

For the last few years, Hartford has suffered from a lack of police cruisers. This is due to several reasons, the most popular thing for community people to throw out is that the cops abuse the vehicles and they crash them as soon as they get them. Point taken, but it is also a stark reality that police cruisers get damaged and crash. The solution may go back to training and more defensive driving classes for officers who have a problem driving. Save older vehicles for newer officers coming onto the street until they have proven themselves as capable drivers.

I don't want to see any officer wreck a car, but I'd rather see them wreck a dog of the fleet with 200,000 miles than a brand new vehicle with 1,200 miles on it. The other problem when a cruiser is wrecked is that it is not always the officers fault.Even if someone elses insurance pays the city for the loss, the money goes back into the City's General Fund, rather than replace the vehicle.

The reason for writing this is because of tonight's evening shift at the Police Department. The PD is so short of vehicles, tonight's evening shift had 9, yes nine, cruisers "doubled up". That means that because of the shortage of cruisers, 9, yes nine, officers were riding with another officer because they had no car. So, in essence where there would normally be 18 cruisers patrolling, there are instead nine cruisers with two officers in them.

That drastically effects police response times and police coverage when you cut the number of cruisers able to respond to calls in half. Some calls do require two officers to respond, but many do not. It also cuts police visibility in neighborhoods in half.

There is a lot more, but I think the point is clear that the lip service of the Perez Administration doesn't translate to a strong commitment to Hartford's crime problems and efforts to correct Hartford's image.

I guess it is difficult for a Mayor under arrest and on trial and possibly facing prison himself to welcome law enforcement with open arms.


Bruce Rubenstein said...

Kevin...the Mayor doesnt give a sh## about the citizens of Hartford,unles he is taxing them in order to build revenue that he can pass to his cronies.I believe that we are down 75-100 cops and the crime problem wont go away until we are fully staffed and until we have the top of the line logistical support they need.Here is where you and I will disagree...I believe that Roberts does Eddie's bidding, to the detriment of the citizens,while protecting his job...

Another major reason for crime is that the street criminals see the Mayor and get emboldened...he has set a poor example for the citizens.

Anonymous said...

Bruce is right. Eddie only cares about taxes so he has money to pay for drivers and all the new people he adds to his office. Ever wonder why the downtown cruisers look new? Why the traffic unit cruisers have more lights on them than a Christmas tree? How about those horse units Eddie wanted back right before last election? It's all smoke and mirrors. Downtown cops, where the companies and taxes come from, look good while the rest of Hartford's police force needs to double up in junk cars. Why do you think HPD has a new Chief every contract? None of the Chief's can stand Eddie micromanaging them and the police department.

Remember when Officer Lawlor was involved in that shooting? Eddie was publicly declaring him guilty the very next day. How about when Officer Bodner was shot recently? Did our Mayor say one word publicly about it? Nope, because to do so would have looked very bad in the eyes if his gang banger pals. Eddie was and still is a thug who hates cops. He sees HPD as a necessary "evil" that jeopardize his brother's drug trafficking operation near the Park and Zion street area. If you don't think so then why is it that Eddie issued a directive to HPD that all mayor drug operations need his approval. That's just another way he protects his own on the streets.

Gwen said...

Cops without cruisers, hmmm, only in Hartford. Why do numerous non-public safety employees (Development Services, HHS, DPW, etc.) need take home/commuter city cars????


Gwen obviously gets it, too bad the City Council doesn't.

It's not rocket science. We need some people with common sense to start running this city.

Anonymous said...

If HPD's union president Richard Rodriquez wasn't in bed with the Mayor maybe HPD would have more cops and cruisers. When will the cops wake up and vote this guy out?

Jake said...

Let me tell you. There are cruisers that are not out on the street. Just drive or walk into the Morgan Street garage and go floor by floor during the day (haven't done so @ night) and you will see numerous cruisers just parked. Call me Mr. Literal, but, aren't cruisers supposed to be out cruising the streets???

Anonymous said...

OMG; please tell me that Perez DOESN'T get to approve drug busts. What, does he have to head every department??

Anonymous said...

I know anyone can say anything and you'll have to take it for what it's worth but I assure you this is true. Eddie wants to know about any major drug raids or stings so he can squash them if it impacts his brother's drug operation. Don't forget Eddie and his brother were in the street gang "Ghetto Brothers" back when he was a teenager. Eddie was the smart one (subjective) Earning him the gang name "The Professor". Eddie used his education and "smarts" to enter politics while he brother stayed on the streets pushing drugs. Though Eddie is not directly hands on in his brothers drug operation he does his part by keeping the cops in check. Mark my words, when he goes to jail you're going to see a lot of changes with how policing is done in Hartford.

Really, does this surprise anyone? Look at how his personal driver was just arrested for operating under suspension for the last EIGHT years. Eddie doesn't care about the law.

Anonymous said...

Bruce, Chief Roberts is an honest, dedicated servant of the City of Hartford. Do you know Chief Roberts personally? Well, I do and I don't appreciate you slandering him. Give him the benefit of the doubt I concur with you on the Mayor but let's not paint everyone with the same brush.