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Saturday, June 30, 2012


What was sold to residents as a potential solution to Hartford's gun violence has instead proved to be a major drain on police resources.  The Shot Spotter Technology was sold to local residents at community meetings as an intelligent system that was smart enough to determine the difference between gunfire, fireworks and other ambient noise such as backfires and construction noises.

The system would then triangulate the noise and analyze it and provide police with information within seconds of the location of any gunfire in the covered areas of the city

It now appears that Hartford's system isn't as intelligent as we were told and most likely graduated in the bottom of its class. The system is apparently on a trial basis for Hartford and was supposed to be tested and evaluated through June 30th. During the month of May over 98% of the activations were false alarms according to police sources, the majority of which were fireworks, which shotspotter is not supposed to send an alarm on.

The system also showed an alarming increase in gunfire in the Barry Square area during May until it was realized that the activations were actually noise and jackhammers from construction projects in the area.

The system also has placed a huge drain on police resources as two officers and a supervisor are required to respond to every shotspotter activation. The first officer assigned then has to write a report regarding the alarm and the supervisor has to write an unusual incident report whether the activation is gunfire or fireworks.

The system was so unreliable that it has now been shut down to get past the July 4th fireworks and the trial has been extended. Shotspotter representatives attended police roll calls this week to address the patrol officers required to respond to their false alarm activations and sources tell me it appeared to be a move by Shotspotter to salvage their system in Hartford.

New Haven is also using the shotspotter technology and according to media reports, New Haven Chief Dean Esserman is considering removing the system altogether due to its inefficiency. On New Years Eve in New Haven the system was actually shut down when it was overloaded by false alarms from fireworks. Media accounts also claim that New Haven's first homicide of  2012 was never detected by shotspotter, although the shooting took place in an area coverd by the system and numerous shell casings were found on the ground.

Information on how many of Hartford's recent shootings actually triggered a shotspotter response are unavailable at this time, but it should be renamed "bottlerocket spotter"

To read more on shotspotter in New Haven, click here


The above comment was made by Hartford's Mayor Pedro Segarra in front of the television cameras as he walked Albany Avenue during his "On The Beat "tour as he reacted to a violent weekend recently.

The fourth of July is four days away and sources are telling me that several roadblocks may be in the way of naming a permanenet Chief.

Although Segarra has told me and others that acting Chief James Rovella is "his guy", the Wasserman Group apparently has a different view. The Wasserman Group, run by Robert Wasserman was contracted by the City of Hartford to conduct a national search for a new Chief at an estimated cost in excess of $50,000 dollars to the taxpayers of Hartford.

The question has been asked all along by myself and others why a national search was necessary when it appears that the perfect fit for Hartford at this point in time is already in place in acting Chief James Rovella. Through the efforts of Governor Malloy , Chief States Attorney Kevin Kane and the efforts of the Shooting Task Force that they formed, Rovella's results have been impressive.

Violent crime is now at a 5 year low according to HPD statistics and may even be better but long range numbers are not available at this time.Those numbers aren't happening by accident. Out of the nine homicides recorded so far this year. arrests have been made in 7 of the 9. That is also an impressive number.

But back to the Wasserman Group. Sources are also telling me that the number one pick for Hartford's next Chief is the embattled Public Safety Director for Indianapolis Indiana Frank Straub.
Straub , a former Deputy Commissioner for NYPD  brings flashbacks for me to former Chief Patrick Harnett who arrived in Hartford 12 years after his retirement from NYPD.

Harnett was never a good fit for Hartford or its residents and Straub may mean more of the same. Internet comments I have found paint a less than flattering picture of Wassermans guy. One Indianapolis blogger commented "Straub, as public safety director for Indianapolis -- admittedly, an embattled one, with spurs in shreds sometimes -- was clearly not the right guy for the job. He could crow with the best, but the fact that he has resigned effective Aug. 1 shows us he's a guy who does not deliver (on his pledge, or threat, to clean up our police department"

News  accounts claim that Straub has resigned as Public Safety Director for Indianapolis effective August 1st . Whether that resignation was vouluntary or forced is open to discussion but there seem to be serval clouds hanging over Straub and his tenure at IMPD. First is the fact his agency is reported to be running as much as a $30 million dollar deficit for this year, hardly something Hartford could afford. At HPD every penny is being counted to continue to provide proper police services to the communtiy.

 News accounts also claim that Straub, after being hired in Indianapolis renovated the Office Suite he occupied at a cost of almost $1million dollars and then took a sworn police officer off the streets to act as his chauffeur.

There was also criticism of a no bid contract Straub assigned to one of his former bosses, former NYPD Commissioner Willam Bratton to investigate corruption in IMPD imternal Affairs Division.  Bratton and other former NYPD higher-ups seem to have built a fraternity of sorts for themeselves where they hire each other in Departments they take over to continue their consultant careers. Former HPD Chief Patrick Harnett was also part of the Bratton fraternity, landing lucrative consulting contracts across the Country.

More troubling though are media accounts of the mishandling of evidence in a DUI accident
involving one of Straub's IMPD officers's in which a motorcyclist was killed by the officer driving drunk. TO READ MORE ON STRAUB FROM THE INDIANAPOLIS NBC TELEVISION AFFILIATE, CLICK HERE

Sources are also telling me that Straub is not a certified Police Officer, never was and only attended a Fire Academy training program in White Plains New York when he was the Public Safety Director there.

It seems as though the right choice for Chief is already here , Mr. Mayor. pay the balance to the Wasserman Group with the taxpayers thanks and make the announcement and let's move on.