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Monday, May 20, 2013


Word is that as the Hartford City Council tries to deliver its budget package, they may be considering up to a three million dollar cut to the Hartford Police Department budget.

At last Monday nights homicide scene on Blue Hills Avenue, I spoke with Councilwoman Cynthia Jennings and she asked me what it was going to take to stop these senseless killings. My answer was simple, properly fund the police Department to be able to do the work that needs to be done.

The problem is that most Concilmembers don't really understand what policing a City like Hartford really entails. Sure they go out for a few hours to ride around, but they get the VIP tour where the reality is the furthest thing from what is actually happening.

They have the misunderstanding that pensions are driven by overtime. They aren't. Pensions are driven by "PJ's" , private duty jobs that are essentially the money officers make working at construction sites, concerts, XL center events and so on. Those used to be very lucrative in determining pension payouts, but as of the latest HPD Union Contract they play a much smaller role in the calculation.

I also explained to Councilwoman Jennings that the thugs on our streets have as good, if not better , intelligence networks when it comes to policing Hartford. They know that the shooting task force is probably half of what it was at this time last year. I'm not giving away any secret information here, it is a reality. Remember this time last year , it seemed as though the Task Force was in the news almost every day for gun seizures and arrests. They just don't have the bodies out there that they had last year.

And keep in mind that Mayor Caviar and his reckless financial spending have made it almost impossible for anyone on the state level to take us seriously if we ask for financial help for police spending or additional resources.

I had a conversation with Mayor Segarra several months ago and I told him he needed to keep in mind that the reduction in violent crime he loves talking about didn't happen by luck. It came about as a result of manpower and dollars directed at a serious problem. It didn't happen by luck.

It just seems odd that we can keep taxing the resources of the police department budget and still consider cutting even more. A special events budget that is basically money just thrown out the window. We keep allowing events that haven't even paid their bills for the previous year, some of them such as the West Indian Day parade that cost upwards of $55,000 for a one day event. How much of that could be used for coverage of "hot spot" areas that drive Hartford's crime.

The Council gave away a half a million dollar's in a land deal to benefit SAMA, a half a million dollars that probably would have been better allocated to the Police Department budget. But then again, SAMA delivers votes to our politicians, HPD doesn't.

The annual rent for the Pond House Cafe in Elizabeth Park is now paid to the Friends of Elizabeth  Park rahter than to the City of Hartford to be used as revenue to fund things like the Police Department budget. But then again the Mayor's partner is on the Board of Directors of the Friends of Elizabeth Park, not HPD, so clearly the Friends need to be properly funded.

Hartford needs to reassess its priorities and pay attention to what really matters, and there can be no greater priority than providing a safe city and a realistic approach to crime.

Cut the dollars for all City take home cars, eliminate travel and frivolous expenditures collect the revenue the City is entitled to, essentially pay attention to business and run this City like a business, not a free for all Charity operation.

Under Cheif Rovella, it seems pretty clear that he is squeezing every budget dollar for maximum impact, realigning positions to be able to use officers for the maximum benefit to HPD and just being very budget conscious. Yes , a novel idea for a Department Head to actually pay attention to his budget, but any further cuts would be crippling.

To Councilwoman Jennings and the rest of the Hartford City Council , the first step in answering how do we stop the senseless violence, the answer is no more cuts to HPD.


Brendan said...

Not one usually to comment here, but this post is disingenuous.

If the council reduces $3MM from the proposed allocation to the police department, it's not cutting anything from the police department's budget. The Mayor's recommended budget for the HPD reflects a 9.4% ($3.459MM) increase of FY 12-13. If the council only approves a $500M increase, that's not a cut, that's a smaller increase. That's still a significant departure from the previous year's budget wherein the council actually did approve an approximately $900M cut to HPD's budget compared to the FY 11-12 budget actuals. I'm not here making policy arguments about what these respective budget imply, but you have a widely read blog and it's not helpful to civic dialog to use misleading language about cuts.

The proposed budget includes actual cuts to departments such as fire ($1.06MM or 3.3%) and public works ($359M or 2.7%).

Jeff said...

How about the Millions of dolars spent each year by the city on group homes for people with drug and booze problems. What about the millions spent by the city for rent and oil for families. How about the tax payer dollars spent on education whereby the child doesn't even attend school. In order for this city to save money they will need to cut the funding to group homes, rent and oil. Sorry folks stop living off the GOVT and go out and make an honest buck

Anonymous said...

To Jeff
For your info, group homes, drug and alcohol program, oil/heating program are funded by the State of CT, from Federal funds; not from the City of Hartford funds.

Brendan said...

Thanks for censoring my comment, Kevin.

Unhappy Taxpayer said...

The Police Department shouldn't be touch at all. When Pedro first became Mayor he increased the amount of police patrol; now he wants to turn around and make cuts. It doesn't make any senses, the Mayor should start with his caviar eating best friends first. He created a problem by over spending on big pay checks for his buddies; P-cards, expensive dining, and heavens knows what else that hasn't come to light yet. Is he not thinking right, as he himself is the first one to use the police as his own personal body guards.

jeff said...

I tried Caviar last night and it was awful. How can the Mayor like this.

Anonymous said...

"public Safety" should not be a sacred cow that gets whatever money they ask for. All too often politicians cut all the other functions but generally give essentially a free pass to public safety.

Police, like any other department, has its share of discretionary spending that is nice, but not necessary.

Its about time the public stopped being the victim of scare tactics and demand accountability with police spending just like any other deparment.

David MacDonald said...

Brendan is correct. The proposed Council cut of $2 million from Police is to cut waste and redundancy. They spend $1.5 million alone on duplicative functions of fiscal management and Human Resources. We have departments that can do that. The remaining .5 million can come out of Overtime, another area of abuse of tax payer dollars. This $2 million cut would still give the department an increase over this years budget. No other department received an increase. Council is very serious about fighting crime and made sure our cuts WOULD NOT impact public safety. So don't believe all the whining and talk of Armageddon. Demand the HPD properly manage their resources just like everyone else as to.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, isnt it tragically funny that in the middle of February the city of htfd was bragging about a near record time of having no homicides in the city since the first of the year,only to (days later)on Feb 27 receive their 1st and obviously not last of the year. Way to jinx it people,its like firefighters saying "we havnt had a fire in while"! Kevin, you were asked by Cynthia Jennings what it was gonna take to stop this violence and you answered a properly funded police dept. Listen, i respect hpd but all the $ in the world cant stop the bleeding. I have posted a couple of times the REAL problem but you fail to respond to my hard fact. Its simply this...IT IS THE SAME COMMUNITY ASKING "WHY" OR FOR "HELP" THAT ENABLES THESE CRIMINALS TO LIVE AND THRIVE AMONGST THEM ! Until they get some backbone it will never change. Next time you run into Ms. Jennings advise her to ask the people who live in her community "WHY" they provide shelter to these thugs. Kevin, i would bet you dont have a hopeless relative with a criminal backround or lifestyle living with you! I'm gonna recommend an old advisement to the ENTIRE city "GET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER" Kevin , please respond I'm curious to see if you agree on any level.

Anonymous said...

as long as my paycheck is the same everyweek, I could care less how this place budgets their money.

Anonymous said...

can you give us an update on the computers retrieved from the BOE and Diggs. You promised you would stay on top of this. WHat happen?

Anonymous said...

As long as our politicians keep spending money like its free, these crime problems will continue... Two things in the news this week are $150,000.00 for the skate park downtown, and 4,000,00.00 to keep flower street open to pedestrians and bicycles, while another useless project, (the busway)is completed... When will we stop this wasteful spending?

Anonymous said...

I guess too much "CAVIAR" can drive people to non sense. Seems that we need big changes in City Hall. They should fired SKB for violating the rules and for milking the City. Instead the have the guts to make cuts to the Police Department. City administrators don"t sound too serious about crime when they are also violating the laws. Not surprise!