" I agree. This chief has destroyed the morale. They will find a way to justify eliminating conditions. You think crime is bad now? Wait till there is no more conditions. The no vote of confidence will never happen. The department's mentality for the most part has become all about individuals instead of unity. That's why the veterans are leaving. They've had enough of the bull. "
Lets look at some facts here here. This is a disgruntled group of police officers that have been part of what are called "Condition Units". For those not familiar with the term, as a community, probably 15 years or so ago, maybe less, we were sold a Community policing program by former Chief Patrick Harnett.
That plan was to divide the City into four areas with each area being its own district. Eventually due to staffing and budget issues, those four areas were reduced to three; north, south and central. There apparently talk now , again due to budget and staffing issues , to reduce that districting to two areas, North and South. Central would be eliminated and the City would be divided back into two areas as it was before Harnett's plan was implemented ( Actually it wasn't Harnett's plan. It was devised by former Assistant Chief's Michael Fallon and Daryl Roberts, Harnett just took the credit)
The Condition Units were a big part of that plan , at least in the sales pitch to get the Community to buy into the plan. They were sold to us to be focused units dealing with "quality of life" issues. The loitering , noise complaints, all of the little things that drag neighborhoods down. They were supposed to address many of the things that are known as "C" calls. The calls that were infuriating residents because they would call the Police and no one would show up for hours.
It started out that way but didn't last. The Conditions Units quickly were allowed to morph into little strike forces around the City. They seem to have lost their focus on the quality of life issues, started wearing swat style vests identifying them as "HPD Conditions" and became mini STF or Vice and Narcotics Units. Many times they were duplicating efforts, the right hand not knowing what the left hand was working on.
Those crimes do affect the over all quality of life, but they also were not intended to be the focus of the Conditions Units
In recent years the Conditions Units could very well be renamed as the "Bar Detail". Many neighborhoods lost their conditions units regularly on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights to handle their unruly bar customers downtown or in the North Main area. This was largely allowed by a previous Mayor and Council who wouldn't hire police officers . Segarra was more concerned about his image in the media with bar shootings and violence than he was about the quality of life in neighborhoods.
A big question should be asked is why would neighborhoods be stripped of resources on the nights they are being needed most, rather than make the bar owners and clubs hire officers to control their clients?
Now with the Police Department over 100 officers short of where they should be, and more leaving in the near future , we are paying the price. There are only so many bodies to go around to fill a schedule that his minimum, staffing requirements. Those bodies have to come from somewhere, and we know we can't hire them quick enough and wave the magic wand to make them police officers overnight. Although a new class of 15 Police Officers is supposed to start this month, it will be almost a year before they are trained and certified to be on their own
In addition, the overtime requirements are out of control. I am sure most Hartford resident's would not be thrilled with the overtime costs associated with Mayor Segarra and the previous Council's lack
of hiring. The numbers are outrageous for what was paid last year in overtime alone, not to mention the lack of productivity by burned out officers working excessive hours .
The numbers in dollars are pretty small, but returning conditions to patrol will fill required and necessary holes in the basic Patrol schedule and budget. It will be approximately $45,000 to $50,000 dollars before the new budget year begins July 1, 2015.
And more importantly, how did staffing get so bad that we now have to dismantle what should be vital components of the Community Policing Program. We just came through a campaign season. Where were the Union or Fraternal Organization advertisements about Police staffing in Hartford? Where is the outcry about playing games with Police staffing? Do none of you officers willing to whine here about the impact of a handful of officer's being reassigned out of necessity realize the danger that failing to hire new officer's puts all of you in?
Your vote of no confidence should be in the previous Administration, not in the Chief who was instrumental in getting you one of the better contracts in years. Not in the Chief who even had to fight with the previous Administration just to get you new, safe vehicles to drive.
And the veterans are leaving , many not from dissatisfaction but because they are maxing out their earnings. $243,975 a year for a Police Officer, and that is minus November and December earnings, as he was already retired, really? I doubt he left because he is disgusted with the Department, if so maybe he needs to get into counseling. I think most people would be amazed at the earnings list for HPD for the past year, especially page 1 through 4. I can see why you would be upset about Chief Rovella actually trying to manage his budget.
Maybe what you should consider is uniting behind Chief Rovella to get the proper support to hire and rebuild the Department. Rally behind the Chief to establish a program to allow bar owners and businesses to hire Police Officers in four hour blocks to maintain order in the entertainment areas ( remember the Downtown Special before it was taken over by Conditions and CSO's and you were all cut out of that work?) Establishing 4 hour billing would not only benefit bar owners who do want to hire but don't want to have to pay for a full eight hours, but it would be a regular addition to the PJ schedule.
If staffing allows in the future and the conditions units are reconstituted, they need to be focused on the quality of life issues as we were promised initially. Quality of life issues may not be as exciting as chasing guns and drugs, but quality of life issues are what drives people out of our City
Although many of our political leaders do read the blog, the Chief is not the bad guy here. You need to focus your efforts where it belongs and where you will actually get a benefit and see the results.
Be careful what you wish for, things could be much worse.