A mentor of mine has always tried to pound into my head that I owe it to the people I write about to contact them first before I post a story about them. I did that this afternoon, with some interesting results.
I read this mornings newspaper with an interesting story about Hartford's Deputy Police Chief Brian Foley and his apparent comments that "we don't need more cops in Hartford". I think I read that like most people asking ' You know we aren't talking about Hartford Vermont. Are you aware of what has gone on in Hartford, Connecticut the last few weeks?" I drove around all day stewing about how anyone in their right mind could make such a comment and what I was going to write as my next blog post
Would the heading be " HPD DEPUTY CHIEF LOSES HIS MIND?" To make the situation worse , a couple of HPD Officers I encountered during the day all asked me "What's up with your buddy Foley and the Courant article?"
Yes , it is no big secret Brian Foley is a friend of mine, it has been mentioned numerous times here in the comments. I knew I was headed to a showdown when I put my thoughts on the blog, so late this afternoon I called Brian with the "heads up" that he probably wasn't going to like my blog posting tonight. The immediate response was "You're not going to beat me up also are you" I guess it was a bad day for Brian
I offered to make our conversation off the record, but I had questions about his comments. He said no, let's talk on the record and clarify any questions I had. I know that sounds odd for friends going on and off the re3cord, but I like to be upfront about that . Former Chief Daryl Roberts and I always had an understanding like that. I knew what it meant if he talked to me as Daryl to Kevin and what it meant when he talked to me as Chief Roberts to Kevin. Luckily a few times I asked that before the conversation got rolling , just to be sure.
The first point Brian made was to the headline attributed to him. Foley "Could we use more cops , absolutely" Foley also clarified that "We need more long term solutions, We do need to hire more cops" " Flooding the streets with cops is not a long term solution" Foley seemed to make, or try to make the point in the article that we will soon be hearing the call from the community urging the State Police to come in to solve the crime problems. Chief Foley walked very gingerly on that thin ice. Both Brian's father and his sister are or were Connecticut State Troopers so he wanted to avoid anything that looked like a slam to the State Police.
But I don't need to defend Brian on this one, we are in total agreement here. For some reason CSP has always been seen as the savior riding in on the white horse to solve Hartford's problems. It is a feel good thing and not a solution at all. For the State Police to come into Hartford, for some screwy reason , the Hartford Police Union has a clause in the contract that any Trooper coming into Hartford needs to be paired up with a Hartford Officer on overtime,. If the Governor is even asked to send in Troopers, I would hope that he says NO. Give the dollars that would be spent on Troopers directly to Hartford in the form of a grant to only be used for a summer initiative to put HPD Officers on the streets.
Another solution to involve the State Police as a resource is also simple By CT Statute, the State Police can patrol or go anywhere in the State of Connecticut outside of their regular areas as long as they don't establish regular patrols. If the state Police should come into Hartford, let them do what we already know they are good with. Set up a traffic check point on a Friday or Saturday and do traffic inspections. Hartford is a small city and most things move by car.
At a traffic checkpoint I would almost guarantee that it would serve several purposes. It would calm Hartford's reckless driving mentality and force some adherence to Motor vehicle law and most likely it would find guns and drugs being transported around the City and many outstanding warrants.
The HPD Union may not like the idea, but we are talking lives here
If State money doesn't come with those strings attached, Segarra and company will find a way to suck it into the General Fund to plug another budget hole.
Chief Foley also seemed to make the comment that by putting more officers into poor and minority areas it disrupted those area with additional, or maybe excessive police action and arrest to disrupt the neighborhood. Although again Foley said that flooding an area with cops is not a long term solution. I asked Brian if he would agree that the execution of a 17 year old , shot through the head at the curb disrupts a neighborhood more than any Police presence ever could. He replied :"I would absolutely agree with you". (He was using absolutely quite a bit today).
I was glad that I took the advice of my mentor and contacted Brian. I was prepared for a much different conversation initially, but in the end I was much happier with the outcome and felt much more comfortable with Brian's comments.
Just remember , there are always two sides to every story.