Before the comments start flying, I will also say that I try to put out the positive info when I get it.
The atrium was full and it was shoulder to shoulder standing room only at the railings on the 2nd and 3rd floors. I think part of it was that Chief Rovella's choices for Deputy Chief's were extremely popular with the rank and file , who showed up to support the new Chief's. There were also many members of the public as well as HPD retirees that showed up to share the sense of optimism that they are feeling in Chief Rovella's vision. He has made tremendous progress in a short period of time and he doesn't seem to be slowing down at all.
photo above from Steve Goode of the Hartford Courant, twitter posting
I don't know if itwas planned for the effect it got, but that is exactly what HPD needs to continue doing on a daily basis. There many good things going on that would help build better relationships between the Police and the community, if only the word got out.
I was going shopping at B.J.'s Saturday and when I got off the Flatbush Avenue exit , I saw flashing police lights in front of Walmart. Being nosy, I drove into the lot to see the HPD Hummer parked at the entrance loaded with toys , rather than another crime incident .It was members of the Hispanic Officer's Association and the HPD Guardians , two fraternal organizations for Black and Hispanic Officers ,conducting a Toy Drive for Hartford's children.
When I dropped of a few toys on my return back from BJ's, one of the officers expressed her displeasure to me when I asked for details and told me they are doing good things all the time and no one ever knows or hears about it. She told me how they served a couple hundred Thanksgiving Dinners to Hartford residents that would otherwise have gone without the meal on Thanksgiving Day.
As a sidenote, the Toy Drive will continue in front of Walmart tomorrow and next weekend also. Tomorrow the HPD mounted unit will have the horses there also for people to see.. Unwrapped toys will gladly be accepted.
Now back to the marketing. Have any of you heard about the "Faith Based Initiative" that is being developed under the direction of Chief Rovella and members of the Hartford City Council? Probably not since no one from the media has covered it, but I have to also say they may not have been invited. The Faith Based Initiative is a simple idea that will probably produce huge results down the road.
In a snapshot, it is trying to gets Hartford's Churches and members to take ownership for a small area around their buildings and neighborhoods, both to victims of violence and potential problem youth.. Chief Rovella frequently refers to the "moral compass" of Hartford's Youth and keeping that compass in line. That is where the Church communities will come into play in identifying potential problems and provide the mentoring and support to break the cycle of violence in Hartford's neighborhoods hopefully. I have attended all three planning meetings and it is a great group with some solid ideas that need to now be put into action.
I know I am oversimplifying it, but it is something that shows Hartford can turn it's problems around with solid partnerships, but people need to know what is going on so they can support it and get involved. At the last meeting hosted by the Archdiocese of Hartford at Saint Thomas Seminary, I half jokingly mentioned that there was no media present to cover the planning session, but if someone got shot all the live trucks would be there immediately to cover it.
Has anyone heard about Chief Rovella's Domestic Violence initiative that starts Monday? Probably not because there has been no coverage that I am aware of. Again a basic idea, but Domestic Violence calls eat up a huge amount of HPD resources. And paraphrasing here and not speaking for Chief Rovella, the way it has been explained to me is that it is about breaking the cycle of domestic violence in Hartford's families.
I think the focus is going to be working with youth and the victims of domestic violence to keep the next generation of adults from feeling domestic violence is acceptable because they grew up seeing it.
Four detectives are being reassigned as of Monday to begin the initiative in an attempt to curb Hartford's incidents of domestic violence.
I know the media plays a huge role in the negative sensationalism coverage that Hartford gets. Yellow crime scene tape and bodies in the street draw more viewers an sell more papers than toys for children being loaded in a cruiser. A police officer stealing lobsters gets far more attention and comments than 5 positive promotions to Deputy Chief, but that is where marketing and relationships need to come into play.
Churning out press releases won't dot it alone. Someone needs to have the guts to lay down the gauntlet to the media. If you are going to call when you want the negative information, you better take the call and produce results when HPD wants the positive information put out also. It needs to be a two way street, beneficial to both sides.
I think the goodwill is running high right now and now is the time to take advantage. With violent crime and homicide stats possibly being the lowest they have been in 30 years, the message needs to get to our media partners that HPD is moving, not just into a new building but in a new direction.
Next Saturday, December 8th, the next meeting of the Faith Based Initiative planners will be hosted by Trinity Episcopal Church at 120 Sigourney Street from 9:00am until noon, let's see if there is any media coverage and which outlets are willing to jump on the good news also.