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Thursday, June 14, 2012


As any regular reader of this blog is well aware, I have no problem criticizing the Hartford Police Department when I think they deserve it. I also believe in fairness and will defend HPD when I think that is fair.

Most people will agree the print media, and for that matter media outlets in general, are not what they used to be. The news cycle now is driven by the latest rapes or sex crimes, homicides and events that tend to emphasize the sensationalism that attracts readers and viewers like moths to a flame. I get that and I hope most people can understand what drives the media and realize that there is a lot more that we never hear about.

A "cartoon" and the attached comments in our local paper of last resort this week really set off my "fairness meter". The "cartoon" depicted a Hartford Police officer lying in a hammock with bullets flying with the comment "we're on it". After the violent weekend the city just experienced, is it fair to put the blame on HPD? Is HPD responsible for raising and nurturing young persons that think nothing of putting a gun to someones chest and pulling the trigger?

And for the comments from the retired Hartford Fire Department captain and former City Councilman quoted in both the article and the cartoon's explanation, this downfall of our City has been going on for decades, there is more than enough blame to go around.

Would it then be fair if we suddenly experience a weekend of tragic fires where people die in a fire to depict Hartford firefighters laying in a hammock with hoses leaking all around them? The rationale seems the same, if people die in a fire it must be directly attributable to the laziness of HFD.

The article also had a quote from the former Councilman that he only sees police officers in his neighborhood when the officers are working construction jobs.

With the amount of road work going on in the City, those officers are a much appreciated presence by most neighborhoods and residents. They should be even more appreciated when people realize that those officers cost us nothing, not one penny, since they are paid for by the contractors. In reality, the city actually makes money off every one of them standing out there.

The fact of the matter is also that even though they are there to direct traffic around construction sites, they are still police officers and just their presence is a deterrent. Is there a problem with a handful of officers and the hours they work and is the City being properly served when their work their regular shift? Most likely, but that is something for the next Chief to address.

The cartoon might have been more accurate depicting Hartford's Chief Operating Officer David Panagore in the hammock with Mayor Segarra serving Panagore an iced tea. That is rightfully where the blame properly lies. Most people would agree that Segarra seems to answer to Panagore. If the opposite were true, Segarra would have ended the sham search with Panagore's consulting buddies and we would have had a permanent Police Chief months ago.

The truth is that acting Chief James Rovella is working with one hand tied behind his back and that hand has been tied by Panagore.Rovella is unable to make any major personnel changes and his Command Staff at this point is more about survival for themselves than it is about assisting Rovella to move the Department forward. Segarra is well aware of this and continues to let it happen. Rovella knows what he needs to do to make Hartford safer, but he is not being allowed to do it.

It might be interesting to see a reporter go to the resident's of Edwards Street or Williams Street to interview them on their opinion of HPD. The offices for the Shooting Task Force as well as the PAL program and the Police Academy sit squarely in this neighborhood in a school that was pretty much written off by the Hartford School System.

Maybe the resident's would tell the story of how Chief Rovella went to the obvious drug dealers conducting business on the street corner and told them it was time for them to move. Guess what? They moved.

Since the Shooting Task Force took up residence on Willaims Street almost a year ago, the reduction in crime and calls for service in the surrounding streets has been dramatic. Neighbors are no longer afraid to come outside, their street is no longer run by drug dealers and crime. The numbers citywide have also been impressive overall and the number of shooting victims and homicides is well under this time last year. That didn't happen by luck.

Although the work of the Shooting Task Force under Rovella has been impressive, the Task force doesn't work in a vacuum. The Major Crimes Division has also been doing a stellar job in bringing about arrests of those thugs responsible for the homicides. Prior to the recent homicides, which I am told have solid leads that will most likely result in arrests, four of the first five murders of the year had resulted in arrests. That is a pretty good average that isn't achieved by detectives swinging in a hammock while the bullets fly.

Even the Patrol Division has been decimated by attrition that City hall refuses to keep up with. A class of twenty or twenty-five new officers hardly keeps up with the projected loos of up to 50 officers this year alone. That attrition rate is from the Mayor's own numbers, and if the way City Hall runs the numbers, that number is probably far from accurate.

The Patrol Division is not only understaffed, but its resources are being taxed by the implementation of "Shot Spotter". So far the activations are running between 95 and 98% false. Although we were sold on "Shot Spotter"at community meetings as being such an intelligent system that would differentiate between gunfire and other noises such as fireworks, car backfires and other noises, that seem to be proving untrue.

We definitely now know that we have a problem with fireworks in Hartford and even that the Barry Square neighborhood has seen a drastic increase in "construction noise". Yes, even jackhammers and dumptrucks are setting off shot spotter. Unfortunately for HPD, every activation requires a response by two officers and a supervisor from Patrol, whether it is a jackhammer or 9mm round. One officer familiar with the system half-jokingly told me he thought he could stand in the street and if he clapped his hands loud enough "Shot Spotter" would go off.

I was going to get into the root of the problem, the breakdown of our parenting structures and our mentality that children seem to be brought up now that shooting someone is "OK", but I think you get my point. Our Police Department is there to enforce laws, not to be raising Hartford's children and teaching them right from wrong. I really don't think that is fair to blame HPD when we have parents, schools, churches and neighborhoods that should be doing that.

We will see many more "bad weekends" if that message doesn't start getting out.


Bruce RUbenstein said...

Kevin...murders are the fault of the murderer not the HPD or City Hall.Failure to keep one's emotions in check,drug taking and lax parental involvement where the muderer is living at home,all contribute to the murder rate.Where Mayor Segarra can help is to see that the budget reflects adaquate staffing for 1st responders and where the HPD can help is to have a sensible staffing plan that works to protect the City's residents and guests.

Steven Harris said...

It appears that my comments struck a nerve with you about Police visibility in my neighborhood, I can assure you that my comments are not intended to ridicule or disparage the Hartford Police Dept., but are intended to point out a very important fact and that is if we are going to curb or put a stop to the madness taking place in our streets then we have to have a meaningful relationship between citizen's, and the Hartford Police Dept. I hear talk of Community Policing, but I don't see the results of community policing.So rather then defend the Police from radical citizens like me, how about starting a conversation about how we better bridge this gap between H.P.D. and the citizens they serve.Steven Harris.

Anonymous said...

Thank god for this article. It's relieveing to see that there are other non-leos out there who found this cartoon ridiculous and insulting. I'm all for joking and laughing at oneself. However, when you are working so hard, going from call to call to call, that you don't even have time for a bathroom break, its a little hard to see the humor in someone implying that you're lazy.

Does HPD have slugs and people who would be better suited as Walmart greeters? Absolutely. But, as with any group there's good and bad and the "slugs" are very few and far between. Perhaps the "artist"(I use this term loosley) of this cartoon should try a ride along on a weekend shift in the middle of summer. Maybe then he/she would see that instead of lying in hammocks, it would be more appropriate to depict us as standing in the middle of a crime scene getting drenched, with a stack of endless reports piling up that have to be completed by the end of our tour, fighting with people who are out of their minds on all kinds of drugs, or better yet with a picture of one of our radios with the dispatchers pleading for someone to clear for an active domestic only to be answered by crickets because all of patrol is tied up on crime scenes.

To Steve Harris:
As far as your complaints with police visibility, you should have a CSO asssigned to your area of the city who can address those complaints. It seems that you are a radical citizen, as you have so fondly described yourself, because you actually care about your community and the direction its heading. Unfortunately for community policing to work, we are often missing a very important piece of that puzzle..a community who cares. That is one of the very disheartening truths I have learned in such a short time, you can't make people care.

Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous
Here Here!! The CSo's have been doing a great job this year in the South End. I'm tired of HPD being bashed. You never hear about the good stuff they do. I, for one, want to say "Thanks" to all the brave cops out there. I appreciate your efforts.

Anonymous said...

You can't praise the police when violence is down and then not fault them when violence is up. Doesn't work that way. Often times a lull in violence is coincidental and vice versa, especially in Hartford.

Elmer Gantry said...

Steve Harris? The same Steve Harris and so called "radical" who is on the payroll as a Marshall for the very same law firms that work for the very same organization that he demonstrates on Wednesdays?

This self proclaimed "radical" is a phoney.

Anonymous said...

Hartford is not the easiest city to police. I agree though, is it really the HPD's fault? I don't think so. Sure the department can use work, but the community has to care. I've never seen residents more complacent than I've seen in Hartford. Why hasn't Rovella been hired as permanent chief? How long will Segarra hold on to this as another political ploy? A couple of months ago, I may have understood, but at this point, it's a failure by Pedro Segarra. Somebody make him take responsibility.

I hear a lot of commentary that the OT that officers get is paid by the construction company and doesnt cost the taxpayers. Am I mistaken that the city/state/federal government are paying the bill for the construction - which includes payment to the officers? Ultimately the taxpayers are paying the officers, so we have every right to comment, watch and ensure that our money is being spent appropriately. This is basic business. Of course the democrats don't seem to care much about the big picture. Spend and then paint a rosy picture to those it seems to cost.

Anonymous said...


I hope your eyesight gets well soon.

Hartord Ct police needs a new Police Chief with leadership ,At least rank of lieutenant or above. Rovella is a nice guy but he never even passed the written exam for Hartford sergeant. Lets get a true professional.

Anonymous said...

His eyesight can't be as bad as yours!!!! A true professional he his!! Someone a rank of Lieutenant or above? Seriously you dope, like that makes a difference?? Look at Darryl Roberts, he made rank of Lieutenant, and had to be the worst chief Hartford has ever experienced!!! In fact, I can not remember any chief that had attained the rank of Lieutenant or above that did anything good for HPD.

Anonymous said...

Any so called citizen that wants to go and see what I do each day is more then welcome. Im sure their opinions will change after the first couple of naked mental patient calls and when the sun goes down, those constant shots fired calls. Its a hard job, but even harder when ignorant people try to use the police dept as a red headed step child.

Im not here to raise your child that does not go to school

Im here to keep crime from sucking the city dry. You ever wonder why businesses are moving out? It must be the police and not the crack heads that bleed the system and sell their EBT cards to get new ones plump full of tax payers money .

The problem is in fact there is so much ignorance and crime, we simply can't eliminate it all, espicially when all resources go to protect Aetna (with 50 security guards)

Anonymous said...

Why is Aetna trying to bully the liquor store at 40 Hawthorne Street? The fact is the owner does not want to sell, and has a family to feed.
The Mayor, and I know he reads this blog, needs to let Aetna know that the City of Hartford is Also fueled by small businesses. Harassment and calling the Governor to cry is no way to run the Aetna....

Anonymous said...

I actually canceled all my policies with Aetna. I now have geico and prudental.

Anonymous said...

Rovella has cut the murder rate by more than 50%, he's fair, he was the catalyst for settling the union contract, he has over 50 new cars coming, he balanced the police budget......all that by someone who didn't attain the rank of LT!!!!! You tell us one chief that has done close to that? I can't wait till he's appointed July 3rd and wipes the current command staff out.

Anonymous said...

I agree with last comment. Rovella seems fair. Lately I can walk to the patrol room without having to worry if I will get yelled at by some white shirt that guessed well at a multi- choice test...Morale is geting better, but some dead wood needs to still be removed..

Spongebob said...

U-Haul will get several calls early july. Then some other two faced command staff members will be leaving from class of 94. Then a new chapter will be written.
Im actually excited for the future. All I ask is that everyone is given fare shake at special details. No more good 'ol' boys

Anonymous said...

Anyone know why all the spare cruisers have anti theft clubs on them? I thought spare cruisers were for patrol (You know, the guys who actually go to citizen calls), and not for condition units (the guys who instead of doing conditions, concentrate on things Narco units should be doing). I guess we will leave my area N/F and I’ll just jump in with Unit 10. Just saying.

Anonymous said...

Does any police personnel know that there are no supervisors for Csquad. The department is already failing, no supervisor no director cause he has no balls, afraid to discipline. Calling out sick is ridiculous, 3 people called out for midnight shift of course is the same people every week! Its a pattern that goes unoticed. Half the shift is on FMLA while at Six Flags or at the beach....Mayor Segarra needs to come in her and see what shitty services the citizen of Hartford are getting from Emergency Services. Management are getting paid to sit at home on weekends and Holidays and let the place run wild and unsupervised. Someone please help!!!!! Help the citizens and also officer safety!!!! Segarra, please put Sgts. Back in dispatch maybe we will get some order like before and department ran much better. Also city will save thousands of dollars that are wasted on all these people in management that dont care about nothing but the money!!!!

The Truth said...

C Squad should shut their mouthes and do your job. Most of the calls are Lincoln or Ocean anyways. Im sorry your nap time is being interupted, but if it is that hard, bid off the shift. Oh I forgot, u want ur PJS too. Well then what else you want on your sandwich????????Waaaaaa!!!!!

Anonymous said...

The clubs are on the cruisers so that our new dream team, led by that half wit attorney Mertes can stop crime in the parks, and prevent more stolen cars from going for a dip on a hot day.......

Anonymous said...

Those spare cruisers are for Sgt Mertes and her merry men to stop crime in its tracks. To keep the parks safe for all!