True Crime, Versus The Vibe

by Melissa Bailey | July 3, 2006 8:18 PM | | Comments (1)

In the wake of the shooting death of 13-year-old Jajuana Cole, the streets may feel more dangerous. But at this sixth-month checkup, cops see a rise in burglaries and robberies, but not the spike in violent crime that residents may feel is there, said Police Chief Cisco Ortiz (pictured) at a press conference Monday.

Overall, comparing January - June 2006 to January - June 2005, crime is down 3 percent. The drop comes thanks to an auto theft task squad: 133 fewer cars have been stolen, and there were 94 fewer larcenies.

Murder hasn’t exactly spiked: We’ve seen 10 homicides this year, as opposed to eight at this time last year.

So why might people feel it’s not as safe to go outside? “Yes, after Jajuana Cole, people feel it more,” acknowledged Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. “For most folks, it feels like” an increase in crime. And there may be fewer officers on the streets: There are roughly the same number of officers as six years ago, but they work fewer hours because of a loss in federal funds that paid for overtime hours.

But he put faith in the department’s new roving, neighborhood-saturating crime squad, ID-NET. The squad, which targets areas where there’s a spike in crime, has made 112 criminal arrests, enacted 58 warrants and made 673 motor vehicle arrests since its inception at the end of February. The squad will continue until next March, at which point 20 new recruits are expected to hit the streets.

Ortiz said the department is tackling one area where crime seems to have surged: Burglaries and robberies. Burglaries rose from 573 to 619, an 8 percent increase; Robberies have gone up from 336 to 366, an increase of 9 percent (comparing the first six months of this year to the first six of last year). In response, the department’s robbery and burglary unit will extend its hours and increase its staff.

Before, the unit operated Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Now, with three more cops on the unit, it will operate seven days a week from 8 a.m. to midnight, said Ortiz.

What about those getting nervous about a repeat of last summer, when teens on bikes terrorized the city, some committing violent crime? School let out a week and a half ago, but there are 6,000 students in summer school, said DeStefano. That’s about a third of the student body, he said.

In the first week of the open schools program (three city schools are open all summer, offering teen activities), 700 kids have come through. And about 900 are employed through the city’s summer job program — roughly double last year’s amount.

Ortiz said city’s new gun hotline (call 946- 8244 to report unregistered firearms) is yielding positive results: “A handful” of calls have come in. “We’ve met with families as a result,” he said. Parents of at-risk teens have called, sat down with police family services officers, and come up with an “action plan,” said Ortiz. “We can do this together.”

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Posted by: B | July 5, 2006 9:06 AM

What happened to New Haven's community policing?
If youth violence is the biggest trouble New Haven faces, how is a program like ID-NET going to help the city in the long run?
Why don't we continue to face the problem where it originates, so we don't need ID-NET in the future and neighborhoods like East Rock can have their one Bike Cop back.

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