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14,000 Jammed Club District Evening Of Cop Shoot-Out; Nightspots Join Call For Solution

by Melissa Bailey, Paul Bass, & Thomas MacMillan | Sep 21, 2010 7:23 am

(92) Comments | Commenting has been closed | E-mail the Author

Posted to: Legal Writes

Melissa Bailey Photo Two days after a stray bullet from a shootout flew through the window of his downtown restaurant, Sherif Farouk called for more officers on Crown Street—and searched for a way to “control the bars.” Meanwhile, cops released new information about the shootout and about the size of the challenge they face policing the bar district.

Farouk is the general manager at Pacifico Restaurant at the corner of College and High Street. He spoke Monday evening, sitting at the bar where a bullet landed around 2 a.m. Sunday during a police-involved shootout just outside.

As police pieced together the details of the shooting, which left two people hospitalized, Farouk searched for answers to what he sees as escalating violence in the downtown’s clubbing district. Just this summer, there were four shootings or stabbings in the district alone. Farouk said every weekend is a replay: When 2 a.m. hits, hundreds of people pour into the streets, many of them drunk. Police are there, but they’re outnumbered.

“They can’t handle everything,” Farouk said. The crowds are “always a problem.”

About 15 to 20 customers were left inside Pacifico when gunfire started popping Sunday, he said. Customers dove to the floor for safety. A bullet came in the front window, deflected on a wooden ceiling beam, and ended up near the bar, Farouk said. Luckily, no one was hit. On Monday morning, he replaced the front window, which looks out onto the new Co-Op High School.

Farouk said the city needs to put more cops in the downtown bar district—“and the clubs need to be controlled.”

Farouk said he doesn’t know how it should be done, but he said someone needs to stem the crowds of drunk people pouring into the streets.

Officials including Mayor John DeStefano are expected to address the “how it should be done” at a press conference later Tuesday.

Frank Patrick, the general manager at the popular pizza restaurant and dance club BAR, had more specific ideas.

The police department “is doing a much better job than they ever had,” he said. “They’re just overwhelmed.”

“They’re grossly outnumbered,” Patrick said.

Indeed, downtown police District Manager Lt. Rebecca Sweeney reported that approximately 14,000 people were hanging out in and around the clubs int he Crown Street district Saturday night into Sunday morning. That included 2,000 clubgoers bused in from Quinnipiac University. The total number swelled to 15,000 if you include outlying areas of the district like Toad’s on York Street, she said.

Patrick’s solution: “I would definitely support them raising taxes for this district” to pay for more cops.

Mayor John DeStefano wants to do just that—he just needs approval from the state legislature to levy the extra tax.

DeStefano proposed asking bars and restaurants for a voluntary contribution to pay for a beefed-up bar detail downtown. That plan has been on ice for a month, after bars pushed back against it. Several bar owners complained that the payments were unfairly meted out.

Patrick said he supports the idea of paying more for safety. “They just have to find a fair way to do it,” he said.

Patrick suggested that police “have a good show of force”—show up in numbers this weekend to send a message to potential troublemakers. His message: “New Haven is a good place to come and have a good time, but it’s not the place to come and start a problem.”

Preliminary Conclusion: Cops’ Bullets Caused No Harm

The two men hospitalized after the shoot-out involving downtown clubgoers and the cops were hit by bullets fired by other citizens, not by the police, Chief Frank Limon reported Monday evening as he filled in some of the details of the harrowing incident.

The incident occurred shortly before 2 a.m. Sunday as the Crown Street clubs let out. It sent patrons of the nearby restaurants and bars ducking for cover, and later sent a shiver of concern through people concerned about downtown in general.

The police have been conducting an extensive investigation since then, trying to piece together what happened.

They had to wait until one of two men hospitalized after the incident emerged from surgery before they could interview him.

After finally interviewing both shooting victims, as well as a witness to the shoot-out, police concluded that three police officers who fired bullets probably did not end up striking anybody, Limon said early Monday evening.

The incident the led to the shootout began when two groups of patrons got into a fight upon leaving a Crown Street club near the corner of College Street, according to Chief Limon. He said police still haven’t confirmed which club was involved.

The fight spilled out into College Street, by the Co-op High School.

The fight began with the crowd beating on, and someone shooting from close range at (and missing), a 19-year-old Frank Street man. Saturday was the man’s birthday. The dispute evolved into a brawl “between two factions,” according to a release issued by the city Monday evening.

Three officers on downtown bar detail— Kealyn Navikoff, Jason Jemiola, and Christopher Cacela—came upon the two groups involved in the melee, and saw shots fired.

One of the men involved then pointed at the cops and started firing, Limon said. The cops fired back.

“What we’re getting now is both these people were shot in the original altercation between the two groups” before the three officers arrived, Limon said. “Our investigation indicates that our officers didn’t hit any of the victims that were on the scene.”

The man who pointed the gun at cops fled. As of late Monday police still hadn’t tracked him down.

The two men hit went to the hospital for treatment. Their injuries are not life-threatening, Limon said. One, a 22-year-old Brewster Street man, was shot in the hand; the other, a 19-year-old Davenport Avenue man, was hit in the pelvis. Both had been involved in the fight, according to police.

Police recovered two guns at the scene.

Thomas MacMillan Photo As police comb through the evidence—including shell casings littered along College Street and on the sidewalk in front of the school—downtown residents, business owners, and visitors have been heatedly debating the incident’s significance. Is it the latest in a disturbing trend of downtown violence associated with the clubs? Should the city move clubs to a district on the outskirts of town, such as Long Wharf? Or are people making too much of isolated incidents? Follow the reader debate at the bottom of this story.

Chief Limon said the three officers involved in the incident, all of whom began serving on the force on Sept. 9, 2008, will be on leave and receive counseling for the “trauma” they experienced.

“When they’re ready to come back, they’ll come back,” he said.

Paul Bass Photo At 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, College Street neighbor Michel Dias (at left in photo below) and her friend Elizabeth Arena (at right) were snapping pictures of the crime scene with their iPhones. Dias said she was in her apartment in the Taft building when the shooting started. It was about 1:50 a.m., she said. “I heard a barrage of gunshots.”

Thomas MacMillan Photo The first few shots were distinct, then it sounded like someone let loose with an automatic weapon, Dias said. She said she realized that multiple shooters were all firing at once. The shots didn’t last long, only about 15 seconds, Dias said.

Dias said she looked out her window and saw “a bunch of young kids” running up College, away from the gunfire. People who had been sitting outside the Anchor, Bespoke, and the Owl Shop jumped up and ran inside, pressing themselves against the walls, she said.

Cop cars showed up soon after, along with fire trucks, Dias said.

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posted by: Hmmm on September 19, 2010  1:42pm

Did they shoot each other or were they hit by the cops? I would feel better if our cops caught the shooter who was running rather than waiting for the to just drop and then picking them up. Downtown New Haven clubs really are becoming nothing but trouble spots and the number of underage and out of town people frequenting them is out of control!

posted by: JB on September 19, 2010  2:00pm

This N.H. thug culture has go to go- or at least be stamped down to a dull roar.

posted by: eson on September 19, 2010  4:34pm

DID SHE REALLY SAY THE COPS TOLD THEM TO STOP SHOOTING? ...

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 19, 2010  5:19pm

More info, Jess!!!

Word on the street is this was automatic weapons fire….....

posted by: Perturbed on September 19, 2010  6:39pm

If these guys were shooting and putting innocent bystanders at risk why did the cops ask them to stop shooting????? The cops should have just taken aim and shot them. Protecting the law abiding citizens of New Haven is their duty. By letting the shooting go on they put many at risk, and probably themselves too. Why must we be so politically correct???? It seems to me that every week there’s a murder or shooting outrage downtown. I just hope to god all the bars go out of business as the sensible people stay away. If you are a Yalie parent out of town reading this why not think about transferring your kid to somewhere safe like Cornell or Dartmouth. If you are a student at SCSU why not try the bars in Hamden, or at UNH there are some good places in Milford and Orange. Who would want to live downtown with this?????

posted by: Erin on September 19, 2010  7:52pm

There are many issues here, such as why New Haven is so attractive for those with “scores” to settle, whether or not we have enough police presence, enough bar security, what economic impact this has long term, how it affects potential downtown residents, etc. etc. etc.

But the one issue that sticks out the most to me is that New Haven doesn’t have a BAR DISTRICT. We have a vibrant and promising downtown district with troubling bars allowed to do business just steps from restaurants, schools, and apartments.

The only way I can see that would make a change big enough to affect many of the complicated issues is this: MOVE ALL BARS/DANCE CLUBS TO LONG WHARF! Create a proper bar district with the appropriate levels of security, and define downtown by its restaurants, theaters, and shops.

posted by: anon on September 19, 2010  8:08pm

When are the Board of Aldermen and the Mayor going to put a stop to all this shooting and sometimes killing in downtown New Haven?  Is this the reputation that we want our city to have? Do you remember the 80’s and early 90’s when no one from the suburbs would come to New Haven?  Are we going to sit back and allow the city to regain the “anything goes Wild West” reputation all over again?  Where are the grown-ups?

posted by: Truth Avenger on September 19, 2010  8:12pm

Perturbed:  One of the biggest and most sensational trials in recent memory is based on a home invasion and triple murder that occurred in Cheshire- that’s right, sleepy, bucolic, nothing-ever-happens-here, Cheshire. Stop trying to scare parents of students and people in general. New Haveners would rather enjoy the amenities of a happening city and take the commensurate risks that go along with being in any urban center, than risk death by boredom in the ostensibly safe towns you mention. In truth, New Havener’s are by and large safe- If you place yourself in crowded late-night venues there is always a risk of some sort of trouble.  Trouble is not a respecter of addresses, towns, or cities. What we should fear are distortions in perspective that skew reality and instill unnecessary apprehension.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 19, 2010  8:38pm

Perturbed,
I’m not so sure about political correctness, but it may have also been because the offices didn’t want to shoot someone. I would hope that there are more distinctions between the police offices and the criminals they apprehend then simply a uniform. If our police are just as trigger happy as the criminals and we justify it by saying “they’re the police”, then we would be headed down the slippery slope of Statism (or further down the slope we’re already on considering that the government has interwoven public funds into the market and private enterprise since the nation’s founding).
I think it was appropriate that the police stated their presence and requested that the criminals ceased fire, hopefully they did so after taking safe cover. I’m surprised the police were fired upon, and I think in most other cases like this people do not fire at police, so I don’t think that we need to rewrite protocol to make sure that from now on offices simply open fire at their discretion without announcing their presence.
As for Yale and SCSU, how often are students victims of crimes off campus? Fighting is much more rampant on college campuses per capita than on the streets of New Haven. Also there are not shootings every weekend in the club district, that is a gross misrepresentation of what is a serious issue that involves serious thought and discussion that is based on facts, not perceptions.
As for the bars going out of business, were you here in the 80s and early 90s? Downtown was a ghost town and crime was through the roof (more than double today’s crime rate).

posted by: watcher1 on September 19, 2010  11:05pm

the cops did not hit their targets

the cops were not named

this is getting embarrassing for new haven on so many levels. first, gun-shots in an entertainment district. correction—a gun-fight. just writing that is crazy. second, the plan to infuse the district with officers…you better equip them with an armored-personnel-carrier and automatic weapons. third, new haven’s finest could not hit the targets? jeez…so much for the shooting range on Sherman ave…i would not want to be identified, either.

new haven…look what we’ve got!

posted by: Christopher Brownfield on September 19, 2010  11:18pm

I live by Crown Street and hear far too many shootings outside. These high-capacity bars that draw so many people from out of town need to be taxed in order to pay for extra security on Crown Street at closing time. It’s not the little bars like Richters or Crown 116, it’s the mega-bars like Gotham and Hula Hanks who attract the… and do nothing to stop the violence.

posted by: Bronson Arroyo on September 19, 2010  11:22pm

Now what would a Cincinnati Reds hat be doing in the middle of a cluster of shell casings?

posted by: Mark on September 20, 2010  12:53am

Truth Avenger is right on!

I was outside of Anchor when this happened. The thing that amazed me the most (an observation I made as my friends and I quickly made out way to State) is that I looked around and nobody seemed troubled by it. What do these out of towners and Yalies think? I even heard someone say that it was fireworks.
If you go to yale or your some weekend club warrior from Guilford you really need to learn bits and pieces of urban life. Like how to move AWAY from gunfire!

posted by: Sane on September 20, 2010  3:00am

I was at the Anchor then, and I may even have heard these shots…  But nobody ran inside looking for cover.

posted by: CurrenteCalamo on September 20, 2010  6:26am

(Please excuse any verbosity or run-on sentences peppered with dangling modifiers and the like; this is being composed pre-coffee!)

I find myself slightly disturbed to see a shooting happen in the area that I once frequented back in my early 20’s. I used to think of this area as safe, and I never had a second thought about enjoying a night out with friends.

I say this as a current (and new) resident of the East Rock neighborhood. New Haven has been a city that has been a part of my life since I was born; as I now live just feet away from the home in which my father grew up over sixty years ago. I’m not “afraid” of New Haven, and don’t think that I’m going to run away from it. However, I know that unfortunately, there are areas to avoid at night, and I don’t willingly go into a dangerous spot for no reason.

However, what truly disturbs me from this article are the young women shooting pictures of a crime scene as if it were an attraction. Someone dies on the street, and it’s now a societal norm to grab our i Phones and make a souvenir out of it?

posted by: cedarhillresident on September 20, 2010  7:41am

This is a turning point for the PD. This city has more activity than ever. I see it in alot of community’s right now. The PD has to change their game plan. It is a different city and a proactive approach is a necessity. We give them the info and nothing is getting done. Maybe now they will take the community leaders with more than a shrug and excuse. This is spill over where the bad guys do their gigs in surrounding neighborhoods. You know were the epicenters are. Have some presents in those areas. Sometimes I feel like they are standoffish because if the rattle things they fear they will move out of those areas into nicer communitys…so they give the bad guys the lead so they stay in one place…I could be wrong….I will post a pic of signs of the gang…the Bloodz in my area later…We have been saying it for several YEARS..but no one listens!

posted by: Citizen on September 20, 2010  8:00am

Oh my we need to have more control when these people go to the downtown bars how do they walk around with guns hope all is well with the police officers they did their job as trained to do good luck.

posted by: Uncle Egg on September 20, 2010  8:48am

Hmmmm:

While I agree with your overall sentiment, I wonder why you would think “out-of-town people” frequenting New Haven nightclubs is a problem. Should we limit patronage to New Haven residents? For restaurants and shops, too?

posted by: Cedarhillresident on September 20, 2010  8:50am

ok pic…new art work in my area…same art work makes it on signs and other places but we manage to remove it….I will start taken pic’s from this point on to document. but 5 houses up is one of our most active dealing areas.

http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b115/happypixie36/vibe269.jpg

Some will say kids did it to be cool, but if you lived here you would know that this is not the case..yes kids may have done it…but more for saying your in the our area. I have stopped confronting this crowd. But there are still good families living near this. And innocent children being dragged into it.

posted by: davec on September 20, 2010  9:06am

Dear Mr. Mayor,
The club kids shooting at each other, and sometimes dying the in the process, has become a blemish on our city and on your administration.  Keep sitting on your hands and watch this story go national as it sooner or later will.  You might even go out of office the way you came in - in charge of a war zone for a city. 
Zero sum game.

Bill Saunders, look at all the yellow plastic tents on the street.  That’s got to be automatic gun fire.

posted by: Ben Berkowitz on September 20, 2010  9:44am

I was 100 feet away when the shots started going off. It was really terrifying to hear, smell it and see the smoke.

The clubs need to be run out of downtown. There is no positive benefit of these clubs that outweighs this problem.

Either zone them out or tax them out but make them leave. I have never been to a city that’s nightlife scene is so violent.

posted by: anon on September 20, 2010  10:43am

I agree, it’s time for the larger clubs to move out to East Haven, West Haven, or abandoned buildings along East Street. 

Split each of them up into 4 nice wine bars, put condos in above.  More tax revenue for the city that way.

posted by: To Truth Avenger on September 20, 2010  10:54am

... you cite the cheshire case. the perps in that case were not from there. they were ex cons who went there knowing it was an affluent, quiet and safe town. they knew there would be targets of opportunity there (hard working and honest people with money who were not on guard against violence). the cheshire case is a classic “isolated incident”. we don’t yet know where the perps of the downtown shootout reside .... what’s also troubling is that people like you make excuses for them.

posted by: anne on September 20, 2010  11:05am

Since the Crown Street bars have been a focal point for violence for some time now, and since the Yale campus is only a block away, and since Yale owns so much real estate in New Haven…why doesn’t Yale buy up the properties in this violent corridor and rent out to more restaurants, shops, cafes, etc.? If this isn’t possible, Mayor DeStefano really does need to do something to make this part of downtown safer for all of us.

posted by: Townie on September 20, 2010  11:20am

This towne is quickly becoming an undesirable place to live. With the unreasonable taxes, poor public transportation and now this increase in crime.
The shootings on Crown Street are just a small part of an uptick in violent offenses. There has also been an increase in mugging, break-ins, etc. And the police department and city administration seem unwilling or unable to respond pro-actively.
Someone commented that the “excitement” of living in the city was worth the occasional eruption of violence. Hate to break it you, this city is not that exciting. And the occasional eruption of violence and/or crime only makes it scary, not exciting.

posted by: Millie on September 20, 2010  11:31am

Are there metal detectors at these clubs?

posted by: William Kurtz on September 20, 2010  11:48am

Anon, can you explain exactly why you think these larger clubs and their attendant problems should be exported to neighboring cities and towns? 

It’s true that when the dust settles from these violent incidents, there always seem to be some people from other towns involved.  It would be interesting to see some kind of detailed analysis of how these establishments contribute to, and take from, the city of New Haven.  For example: do they generate revenue for parking?  How many jobs are created, and how well they pay?  What’s the effect on surrounding businesses (restaurants, shops, etc.)

I believe most large-capacity nightclubs charge a weekend cover.  Perhaps it’s time to drop a sizable local tax on those admissions and use that to pay for security.  That would put the burden back where it belongs, on the people using the establishments.  Would that be legal?

posted by: Citizen on September 20, 2010  12:07pm

This is a gunfight where more than 35 shots were fired. This isn’t Iraq, it’s New Haven! What’s going on here. I frequent New Haven restaurants on a weekly basis. Do I need to purchase a flak jacket for fear of being hit by a stray bullet? Those 35 shots hit something. Is it just good fortune that no one three blocks away was hit? This is a very serious incident. It was a war zone and I for one make it a practice to stay far away from such places. Is it safer in the ‘burbs? You bet it is. Take a look at the crime log above and determine if you want to play and eat downtown until the police gain a handle on this issue.

posted by: Uncle Egg on September 20, 2010  12:11pm

We should be careful about making a knee-jerk response to this very serious problem. There are plenty of cities across the nation that have thriving downtown bar/club districts that rarely (if ever) see open gunplay within earshot of diners. I have never heard of this sort of thing on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, a city with urban crime problems that otherwise dwarf New Haven’s.

I personally would prefer that New Haven retain a thriving and lively downtown area, but to do that we’ve somehow got to do whatever it takes to get a grip on this violence. I wish I could offer solutions.

posted by: notch on September 20, 2010  12:20pm

Did the officers shoot random guys? Or were these guys threatening to fire at the officers as well? The article makes it sounds as if they could have been simply caught in the cross-fire.

posted by: Margaret on September 20, 2010  12:24pm

Will someone explain why we have fire trucks respond to an incident like this? I didn’t read any mention of these bullets sparking a fire and a fire truck doesn’t seem like the most nimble vehicle to have on hand in the event someone was injured and needed the attention of a paramedic.

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 20, 2010  12:53pm

DCoon,

Glad the word on the street is more accurate than the spin out of the Mayor’s Office. (btw, my comment was pre-photos)

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 20, 2010  12:57pm

Townie and others,
Crime is an important issue to discuss and look for ways of addressing it. It is also important to have an accurate perspective of the crime and a sensible way at looking at the statistics in terms of geography, time of occurrence and who the victims are.
This year, crime is at it lowest level since the early 1970s (yes, population adjusted). In order for shootings and muggings to reach the same level it was last year, the remaining 3 months of this year will need to see a 300% increase in shootings and muggings. Even if this years “crime wave” continues as it apparently has been all year, then there will still be about 30-40 less shootings versus last year.
The decrease between 2008-2010 is even greater, as is 2007 and 2006.
It is important for media sources to cover these incidents and for us to talk about them. But crime is at a 35 year low! 2010 has been an unusually low crime year. People are still getting robbed, shot and having their houses broken into and cars stolen, but it is happening at a significantly lower rate than at any time in the last 3 decades!
Sensationalizing and exaggerating accomplishes nothing and it makes the situation seem hopeless, which is ridiculous seeing how this year in particular we should be most hopeful that crime can be returned to the margins of urban life by reducing the severity of crimes and the culture that violence finds refuge in. We are closer than we have been in a very long time to crime rates similar to those that existed prior to urban flight, suburbanization, deindustrialization and urban renewal, which was a rate that is lower than the crime rate of many suburbs in New Haven County today.

posted by: Bob on September 20, 2010  1:27pm

“The officers’ shots hit two other men in the street, according to Limon.”

Is this true?  Did Limon really say that?  If so, where is Mayorga on this statement? I find it hard to believe that the investigation is complete, that ballistics have been processed and guns have been matched within approximately thirty hours.  If I am right, Limon just implicated his own officers to the press without all the facts on the table.  Cavalier, if ththere’sver been a time to really fight for your officers, now is it.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 20, 2010  1:44pm

Citizen,
An individual has a better chance of being injured or killed in an automobile related incident in the suburbs than being injured or killed by violence in urban America.

posted by: Pedro Soto on September 20, 2010  1:45pm

I’m in agreement with Ben. Let’s call a spade a spade. While the megaclubs like Gotham and Hula Hanks may have been the “trailblazers” for this revirevitalisation’sthe downtown evening scene, there is clearly a massive problem here, and the matter needs to be addressed.

Quite simply, these bars in their totality bring far too many people that can be adequately crowd controlled on a given weekend, and it’s pretty clear that the crowd they bring also brings a toxic mix of excess drinking, violence and guns.

A straightforward way to deal with this problem is simply to sharply reduce the occupancy permits of the largest clubs, and cut down on the size of the crowds here on the weekends

A second thing that could be done would be to have some sort of rolling closing time, where the big bars start closing at 12, and then one closes on the half-hour until 1:30.  That way, at least there is not the ridiculous exodus that occurs on closing time.

Has anyone in city government actually seen what happens when the clubs all close? It’s absolute chaos.

It’s clear that while the bars crow bout how much security they are hiring, that their responsibility ends at the club door. The bars will rage and gnash their teeth, but until something gives, the situation is out of control.

Perhaps with a change of administration, the city will finally be given to levy local taxes and raise the funds directly from the bars proportional to their popularity, but until then serious actions need to be taken.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 20, 2010  1:54pm

Uncle Egg,
What kind of logic is that? Do you think anybody from New Orleans has heard about violence in New Haven’s Downtown? Because they haven’t, does that mean there is not crime here?

http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2010/02/3_shot_in_french_quarter.html

posted by: Uncle Egg on September 20, 2010  2:13pm

Hopkins: While I agree there’s a certain amount of unfounded hysteria about crime these days, I don’t think we can poo-poo the problems New Haven is experiencing right now.

Yes, the national trend has been downward for quite some time, but there is obviously a problem here in New Haven that is getting worse. Are things as bad as they were in 1989? No. But they could get there quickly.

We can’t afford to go back to the days when suburbanites were afraid to come into town for dinner and other activities. It took a long, long time to change people’s attitudes, and we’re not going to get a grip on the current problem by burying our collective heads in the sand.

posted by: Cedarhillresident on September 20, 2010  2:29pm

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFwkv14u3b4

posted by: mike on September 20, 2010  2:36pm

JOHN, you bought the schools into the downtown district, high school and now the college.  Lets bring the club seen to Long Wharf and keep it away from downtown. Keep cafe’s, stores and the schools, but, the clubs sent the by the water it will be safer for the city. It’s the smartest way.  Do not ignore this issue. email me if you want more information

posted by: Townie on September 20, 2010  2:48pm

This city may be safer than it was in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but I don’t live in that time, I live in the present, the year 2010. Why would anyone deal with any amount of random crime on top of the other problems/defects of this city? One could live in relative peace and quiet in Guilford, Branford, Clinton, etc. and enjoy smaller property tax bills and a greater quality of life. If they have an urge to experience city life they can jump on a train to NYC, which is what most people do, even people who live in the “city” of New Haven. I think it is time to abandon the idea of New Haven as an urban center. We are a large town.  We need to focus on our community as a whole and not as separate districts or neighborhoods. Only then will the quality of life improve for everyone in New Haven and this in turn should cause a decrease in crime.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 20, 2010  2:59pm

Uncle Egg,
Just because crime is down significantly, doesn’t mean it isn’t a serious problem-it is. Both points are important to make.
What standard should we have in public discourse?
Should we all make things up, over generalize, confuse perceptions with reality and make policy decisions based on that?


Other have made good points in prior articles, and Pedro reiterates some of those ideas in this one. Certain short-term cosmetic changes in the perception of crime might be good to dissipate the current hysteria, which if goes unattended to may result in revenue losses for the city, but an over reaction may also just bloat the budget and not have a large effect on increased revenues to pay for more over time, more patrols, more police, etc.
The long term ways of addressing crime seems obvious. Look at the conditions that lead to a massive unprecedented increase in crime in the late 1960s that continued steadily until the mid 1990s. Racist and anti-urban housing studies throughout the 20th century consistently gave urban neighborhood poor grades often regardless of the actual condition of the housing. Federally contracted suburban subdivision housing built outside of city municipal boundaries that were only accessible to those who could secure mortgages (economically stable families ie not recently laid off disproportionately black factory workers). This country is more geographically income segregated today than at any other point in our history. The vary same urban housing typologies that have been uniformly dismissed by housing quality studies, zoning laws and building codes are the exact model for how to integrate various incomes in close geographic relation. Unfortunately, much of the housing stock has been gutted, cut up and mangled to the point where it can be expensive to restore houses to their original glory.
A great deal of the crime drop of the late 90s and 2000s was thanks to simply pushing the problems from the cities to the surrounding towns through financial deregulation, which flooded the market with cheap credit and volatile initially cheap mortgages. Many city dwellers were able to escape urban horrors in the 80s and 90s by moving to places like West Haven, East Haven and southern Hamden. Unfortunately many of the problems followed as underemployment lead to foreclosures due to lack of payments. Also we enormously increased the prison population through harsher sentences for lesser crimes.
Serious crime reduction and prevention isn’t going to happen through the police, the prison system, or the schools. It is going to happen when the people committing crimes stop committing crimes. That’s going to happen where the atmosphere in urban neighborhoods shifts through physical improvement of the built environment, more access to jobs, and more diverse populations that bring activity, culture and economic stimulation as well as ‘eyes on the street’.

posted by: Mark on September 20, 2010  3:04pm

Saying that Clinton is safe is like saying that Willimantic has no heroin issues.

The ‘burbs have their own issues that are usually kept quiet due to:
a. the regional leaders and police dept. wishing to not tarnish their reputation and drop property values. and/or
b. the media really doesn’t bother covering or even having coverage out there due to the small population size and perceived quiet.
.... Teenagers have nothing to do compared to the city so substance abuse is high and petty crime is high. Cops unfairly target the kids and ignore all other crime. Many people out there (in the more affluent areas) can afford to get themselves out of almost anything. As someone who will raise their kid in a semi-moral household I will never live in the suburbs.

posted by: Time for change on September 20, 2010  3:08pm

I’m not one to make comments,but it really is time to get a police chief who knows how to run and manage a city like New Haven. Limon may be a decent guy but he was booted from Chicago when they cleaned house. He was insulated from the public and truly does not know what he got himself into.Technology is not the fix.Hiring an assistant chief who has never had command experience is a joke. What we need is someone who is community oriented ,from the area and knows the dynamics of Ct cities. Someone who can bring some real command presence with them. Leaving and going back to Chicago every other weekend is not going to help this department get where it needs to go.I hope the officers keep their heads up and eventually get the leader they need.

posted by: Cedarhillresident on September 20, 2010  3:32pm

Jonathan Hopkins all I can say to your comment is bingo. You always seem to have a good grasp of urban life.

Mark you are right about the not in our town mentality of the the surrounding area. Yes they do have it but I still don’t belive it comes close to the level inner city’s have, big reason is that “under the rug” thing is delt by pushing that trouble into the city instead of cleaning it up and offering services.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 20, 2010  3:32pm

Townie,
I agree that a focus on the quality of life of residents is important and will be necessary if this city hopes to have a viable future. New York is a metropolis and really can’t and shouldn’t be compared to New Haven in terms of city life, they operate at completely different scales. New Haven is a large town or small city, doesn’t matter what we wanna call it, although Greater New Haven is pretty sizable and if the connections between municipalities were more coherent, we could actually have a rather successful mid sized city. I think it would be wiser, however, to keep things smaller scale by establishing new centers in surrounding towns that more adequately place services near people instead of having everything centrally located.
I think New Haven can best be described a small city made up of several neighborhoods that act as small towns, which surround a central business, commercial and institutional district. Our neighborhoods operate very similarly to small towns in that they have Main Streets (Whalley, Dixwell, Grand, Congress, etc) and walkable adjacent residential areas with occasional parks, schools, corner stores and offices mixed in. The scale of housing is slightly larger than that of a small town but its comparable. Each neighborhood should have a range of jobs for varying skill levels, a range of building types for various uses and income levels, access to daily needs within walking distance of housing, access to transit to get to other neighborhoods and the downtown and access to public recreation space. Each neighborhood’s “Main Street” should have daily needs like grocery stores, but each Main Street should have a concentration of a certain service or activity, which makes it distinct within the city. Perhaps upper State Street would have a concentration of bars and cafes, Whalley would have clothing stores, Dixwell would have medical offices, Congress would have restaurants, Grand would have specialty food stores, etc as well at least one of each of these services or activities so that there is adequate choice for those who cannot easily go around the city at will (children and the elderly). Each neighborhood should have a good job selection for various skill levels, with some neighborhoods perhaps having a focus on certain areas but still maintaining a minimum mixture. Downtown can be the place that has everything, some bars, restaurants, bowling alleys, arcades, cafes, food stores, department stores, etc. Perhaps some neighborhoods have a slightly larger wealthy population than others, perhaps ethnicity shifts slightly towards the particular stores that are in that area, but generally every place is diverse and thriving with its own niche. Schools could then be neighborhood based and we could get rid of the elaborate, expensive and unnecessary private busing system. School performance may shift slightly depending on what the job concentrations are in the various neighborhoods. Some students may excel in math because there is a concentration of engineer offices in that neighborhood, which the parents work at; others may go well in art in a neighborhood that has a bunch of galleries that parents work at; others may do better in science because there is a concentration of medical offices in the same neighborhoods as their school; and others may do best at a trade school if their parents are construction workers.
You’re point that the city sometimes tries to hard to make itself seem bigger than it is, I think that is detrimental because we focus too much on downtown development, and high skill job development, instead of being realistic about our demographics, population and problems. The idea that cities can just import massive numbers of cars and people in the morning and then export them with pay checks to other municipalities is just crazy especially considering the dangerous and deadly infrastructure that allows for commuting and the health effects on the communities that are cut through with arterial roads. There should be better economic development policies for our neighborhoods because the best way to absorb large influxes in to disperse it, not concentrate it.

posted by: Mark on September 20, 2010  3:53pm

OK THIS WHOLE THING IS STUPID. If you want the amenities of urban life you need to take the flaws that come with a large amount of people clustered into a small area. That’s all. There will always be problems and I just hope that the cops, the families of the people shot and any witness that was traumatized will all heal.

posted by: Townie on September 20, 2010  3:53pm

To Mark: I resent the title of suburb being placed on towns like Clinton, Guilford, Saybrook, etc. These towns came into existence at the same time New Haven did, some earlier. They are not suburbs, they’re towns. Most towns in Connecticut cannot be called suburbs. Anyway, Clinton is a lot safer than New Haven. One can walk the streets and not worry about being mugged or otherwise accosted. I grew up there and can vouch for its safety. Also, there was only one murder in the my 19 years of living there. Since I’ve moved to New Haven (six years ago) there have been several. Not to mention mugging, rapes, break-ins, etc. True, Clinton and some other towns do have adolescent drug problems, but I don’t think it’s because they are boring places to live. I think it’s because of a systemic societal issue. A teenager can be just as bored in New Haven as they one could be in Clinton.
But the facts cannot be disputed. The small towns of Connecticut are generally safer than the cities. True the towns have their problems as well. But on the issue of crime they win. Moral/societal ethos are another issue.

posted by: Threefifths on September 20, 2010  3:57pm

posted by: Townie on September 20, 2010 2:48pm
One could live in relative peace and quiet in Guilford, Branford, Clinton, etc. and enjoy smaller property tax bills and a greater quality of life. If they have an urge to experience

Not always true.How about what happen to Dr.Peti.How about when you had son of sam in new york.Those areas have they share of crime.

posted by: kamb on September 20, 2010  4:34pm

The problem with the downtown bars is the LOCAL GANG MEMBERS patronizing them!!!

There were no problems downtown, accept a few bar fights years ago, until within the last few years more thugs from NH, Waterbury, Hartford, Bridgeport, etc coming to our town.

Reopen the Taurus Club, 7-11 Club, and the Ebony Lounge, and keep these gun slinging thugs in their own neighborhood!

AND BRING BACK Chief LEWIS!

posted by: Anon on September 20, 2010  4:39pm

This is a perfect example of what happens when the new haven police only having rookie cops working the bar detail… When will the District boss, Lieutenant Sweeney finally become accountable for this non-sense? She was in charge of Newhallville when all the shootings were happening and now its happening downtown and she is no where to be found…. its time to put her somewhere else where she would like to hide! Where is this so called street crime unit? The Mayor has no answer to this mess…. does not look good.

posted by: River to State on September 20, 2010  4:41pm

Margaret,
You would like an explanation as to why the “fire trucks” respond to these types of incidents. Well here goes.
In New Haven there are 10 Engine Companies, 2 Squad Companies, 4 Truck Companies, and 2 Emergency (paramedic) Companies. The Engine and Squad Companies provide Basic Life Support (BLS) coverage for there response district.  This ensures that all patients, regardless of where they live or happen to be, receive rapid and effective BLS care prior to the arrival of the paramedics. The average response for an Engine in its first due area is under 4 minutes from time of dispatch. The 2 Emergency Companies split the city and provide Advanced Life Support (ALS) in conjunction with the Engine and Squad Companies. The Engine and Squad Companies can stabilize a patient before the paramedic arrives. All Engines and Squads carry AED’s (defibrillators), Oxygen, airway equipment, various bandages and splints, Glucose for diabetics, Epinephrine injectors for allergic reactions and a host of other life saving equipment.
    If you have any healthcare experience you know you MUST provide BLS before ALS.  And keep in mind that only about 30% of the medical alarms in New Haven require ALS intervention. If ALS care is not needed the Emergency Companies are cancelled by the Engine / Squad and available for another call that may require ALS.
The “fire trucks” you see responding to these calls are not just showing up with a bunch of untrained “firemen” with hoses, they are certified EMT’s and using there training and equipment to stabilize the patient. The EMT’s ensure patients have an airway, are breathing, and have a pulse. They are taking vital signs, administering oxygen, doing CPR, using the AED to shock the heart back to a normal rhythm, administering an Epi-pen so a patient can breathe during an allergic reaction, giving gluclose to a hypoglycemic diabetic, or in this case stopping the bleeding from the gunshot wounds.
Contrary to the FRAC report the NHFD is the most proactive “urban” fire department in this state when it comes to EMS. No other large city in this state will have a fully equipped BLS company at your door in less than 4 minutes regardless of what the call is for. Never mind a paramedic showing up a few minutes after.
Do not be so quick to dismiss the effectiveness of the BLS Engine and Squad Companies in New Haven they have saved thousands of lives and improved the out come even more patients.
And FYI the 2 Emergency Companies were on other alarms when this call came in and did not respond. The 2 Engine Companies who got there within minutes stabilized these 2 young patients until the ambulances arrived. And they are both still alive and expected to fully recover.
Residents and visitors of New Haven should be thankful for the superb prehospital care they receive here in the Elm City, Lets just hope the bean counters don’t dismantle it.

posted by: Uncle Egg on September 20, 2010  4:52pm

JH:

I think you misunderstood me. What I’m asking is, Why is this sort of thing happening in New Haven’s downtown bar district, but not in comparable areas of other cities, such as New Orleans?

The answer could help us frame the debate. If it’s a simple matter of more cops, then the question is whether we want to pay for increased protection (and who gets to pay for it).

But it might turn out that there are other factors involved. Perhaps there are partnership models between club-owners and police that we might adopt. Or perhaps bar personnel are in NO receive additional training to spot problem behavior and resolve it.

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 20, 2010  7:10pm

Ungle Egg,
“Why is this sort of thing happening in New Haven’s downtown bar district, but not in comparable areas of other cities, such as New Orleans?”
It is.
http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2010/02/3_shot_in_french_quarter.html

Townie,
Its true that Connecticut has many old towns and villages that grew up along water features, rail lines, trolley lines, and old cattle routes. However, in the decades proceeding the Second World War automobile dependent subdivision housing began sprouting up on the on the old economic generators of these small towns and villages-the farmland. Many towns still retain some of their historic charm, their Main Streets and Greens, but they also have enormous sections of town that are typical sprawl patterns that can be found in LA County, Pheonix, Atlanta, and any other place in the country that experienced housing booms in the wake of WW2, and several other subsequent housing booms fueled largely by government policies, subsidies and incentives.
All the surrounding suburban towns of New Haven have varying degrees of sprawl and redeeming qualities, but I don’t know of any town in New Haven County that is still a rural village or town with an economic engine of agriculture or industry and without significant amounts of sprawl development like big box stores, nation chain stores, 1/4 acre lot ranch housing, office parks, and spaghetti streets.
Social and emotional disorders in suburban children is a very real issue that is directly related to the poor design of suburbs, the resulting isolation, segregation and aesthetically dull built environment. These design principles were imposed on every small town and village in the county (and country for that matter) and they were also imposed on New Haven-that’s what urban renewal was: taking evil urbanism and replacing it with suburban ideals.
Westville is a good example because it used to be a village with farming land south of Main Street (name changed to Whalley Ave in the 20th century) and industry along the West River to the north where river current powered mills. We no longer call it a village though, we refer to it as a neighborhood or as a suburb within the city. That’s because it developed out of being a village and in to being a suburb along the trolley line that ran up Edgewood to Alden and over to and up Fountain. Branford, as another example, had some development along a trolley line that ran east of of New Haven as well as some development as a result of demand for summer vacation homes. The long trolley ride however, did not make large scale development viable, so it remained a fairly small town until I-95 came through and fueled a housing boom. Just as Westville changed, so did many towns along the shoreline as a result of changing circumstances.
The development patterns of trolley line suburbs like Westville versus automobile suburbs like Branford are clear in that segregation is avoided through diverse mixtures of housing within close proximity of each other in Westville and income restricted housing pods strewn about the landscape in Branford. Children are much more likely to development social issues that lead to depression, drug abuse, and anxiety in environments like Branford than in Westville.
The problems of urban America and suburban America and intimately intertwined with one another and if we truly solve the issues with one, we will have automatically solved the issues of the other.

posted by: Truth Avenger on September 20, 2010  8:28pm

Posted by ? to me with this quote:
“...what’s also troubling is that people like you make excuses for them.”
Poster, you need to go back and re-read my post.  Nowhere are excuses made that defend the actions of the perpetrators of the shooting crimes and your assertion and others like it, are exactly the point of my post: People taking liberties with the facts- looking for opportunities to malign New Haven as if other towns and municipalities are trouble-free.  The fact that New Haven services so many of the region’s poor, homeless, sick, hungry and and even their bored, is probably why folks like you have the luxury of bad-mouthing what is arguably the best city between New York and Boston. Sanctimonious finger pointing never fixed anything!

posted by: Mary on September 20, 2010  9:13pm

How quickly did we forget, this was the Mayor’s Ideal to bring these bars to the downtown district.  Remember this was his way to bring revenue back to the city.  That was why he closed up all of the bars in the black community because he said a lot of shootings were happening.  Now he have a school in the middle of the club life let alone that there is a package store a block before the school.

Someone told all of the Yale parents to stop their children from going to those bars, but what they should of said to all of the parents that have children going to the Coop School they need to withdraw them from the school for safety reasons.

Don’t blame the shooter blame the Mayor for allowing these clubs to be downtown.  He need to take them out and put retail stores to generate revenue.

One other thing the Chief said the cops didn’t hit anyone, he should of kept that statement to himself because the officers go to the academy to protect and serve, they should of shot to wound the shooter so that no one else could be in harms way but I guest the shooters had to do it to themselves.  Those officers need to go back to the police academy and be retrained on fire arms.

Mayor D you really messed up by putting those bars out there, so sorry for you.

posted by: Mitch Berger on September 20, 2010  9:17pm

Let’s Set the Ground Rules Right Now:

1. The officers involved in this sad and violent event performed admirably under the highly stressful conditions they were confronted with. No abusive personal attacks on their integrity, professionalism or acts or actions in the line of duty should be tolerated either by the anonymous bloggers or the publisher should be tolerated. (Paul Bass please take note.) Thank God they did what they did when they did it. If not innocent civilians could have been injured, maimed or worse. Move on and get a life.

2. Whether a police officer has one day, one year, ten, twenty or thirty years on the job has no bearing on what happened or why it happened. We are all highly trained, certified and recertified and constantly and closely supervised in almost every aspect of every call for service or any other self initiated call that we handle on a daily basis. Frankly hindsight is 50/50 and your comments, after the fact are totally irrelevant if they relate to on the spot decision making by either these officers or any other members of the NHPD undertaking to perform in the line of duty.

3. Many of you think we make a ‘fortune’ on this job. Well, what planet do you live on? You must be from Mars! If you think the job is so great and lucrative then why don’t you apply, go through the background checks, the academy, FTO and then you might be marginally qualified to make a meaningful comment and share in our vast riches. Get real.

4. To all those well meaning citizens who do provide constructive comments, they are of course welcomed. Keep up the good work. If more like you would be constructive instead of negative and destructive then perhaps we could make joint progress in addressing the important law enforcement and quality of life issues facing the citizenry of New Haven.

5. Finally, don’t waste your time making inane attacks leveled against the Police Union, its officers, Management or the Mayor.

Have a great day…..

posted by: Ellis Copeland on September 20, 2010  9:21pm

JB—nearly all the people on Crown St on Friday and Saturday nights are from the SUBURBS.  No one who actually lives downtown wants them here.  ...

They “think” the cops didn’t hit anyone.  Have they heard of this thing called “ballistics?”

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 20, 2010  10:37pm

Mary,
How many high school students do you think were in, at, around, going to, coming from, or anywhere near Co-Op at 2 in the morning on a Sunday?
As far as I know the city doesn’t own or operate any bars. Individuals opened up bars by purchasing, leasing or renting property and buildings. How exactly did the Major “put” those clubs and bars there? Do you really think he’s in charge of that? Yale attracts certain retail tenants for its properties through incentives and going out and making proposals, but that is completely different from what the city does in terms of economic development.
As for bars in neighborhoods, they’re a great idea as long as they aren’t the only businesses in the neighborhood aside from convenience stores and liquor stores. A couple bars on a neighborhood thoroughfare along with restaurants, cafes, jazz clubs, and theaters can be a great addition to a thriving neighborhood. Just look at Upper State Street. The issues with the Taurus Cafe and others is that they were not part of a healthy nightlife with activity and people from the entire city, they were on heavily residential streets next to vacant lots, burnt out street lights, abandoned buildings and general blight; at this point places like that become isolated centers of despair, not part of a larger context of bustling activity and culture. Closing places like that down were probably wise moves and hopefully some of the neighborhoods that have or had problem bars will develop healthy, diverse and active thoroughfares to a point where bars are not detrimental.

posted by: robn on September 20, 2010  10:53pm

33 rounds=three shooters, itchy fingers and one full clip each. Probably not fully automatic weapons but then again, all it takes is one bullet to give you lead poisening.

posted by: The Professor on September 20, 2010  11:28pm

I fully understand the impulse to blame everything on the clubs and say that the solution is just to throw the clubs out of downtown for good.

But what exactly would that do to help?  At the end of the day, these… would still be around!  It’s not as though the clubs have some magical power that makes otherwise sane and law-abiding people whip out guns and start trying to kill each other.

Sure, you can argue that the clubs provide a space for the city’s… to get together and thereby catalyze deleterious interactions, but the fact of the matter is that if the clubs don’t do that, something else will step in and fill the void.

So say we get rid of the clubs.  Maybe we won’t have anymore shootouts on the corner of Crown and College.  You know what’ll happen?  The shootouts will move to Ferry and Grand or Whalley and Ramsdell or Dixwell and Henry or Chapel and Orchard.

At the end of the day, the solution has to focus on THE PEOPLE DOING THE SHOOTING rather than on the venue where the shooting took place.

posted by: wil on September 21, 2010  7:45am

I’m pretty sure local universities/colleges have a bigger say than we think in shaping the policy of police response and actions on the street…  God forbid Jr. and his friends get injured by police doing their job as it has to be done.  Or worse, maybe we’re all part of somebody’s research on exactly what happens in a small city if the police are instructed to kind of stand back and see what happens in the face of a situation like the above. Just a funny thought.

posted by: The Internet on September 21, 2010  8:00am

“I have never heard of this sort of thing on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, a city with urban crime problems that otherwise dwarf New Haven’s.”

Here, let me google that for you:

“3 Shot On Bourbon Street”

http://www.wwltv.com/home/related/3-Shot-On-Bourbon-Street-During-Saints-Super-Bowl-Celebration-83785052.html

“Bourbon St. Shooting Marks 12th In 24 Hours”

http://www.wdsu.com/r/18789448/detail.html

“Man Shot During Argument On Bourbon Street”
http://www.wdsu.com/r/10690464/detail.html

posted by: eli on September 21, 2010  8:30am

I love living in Cheshire:)

posted by: Detectors on September 21, 2010  8:32am

If we have a night club district, why not make a pedestrian area, that we couldn’t there be specific entrance points established where everyone would have to pass through metal detectors?

Heck we have to do that in airports and in our city schools, why not in an area that is plagued by this sort of gun violence.

Just a thought.

posted by: wil on September 21, 2010  8:36am

Hey The Internet, that’s that southern mentality for you: shoot first, ask questions later. BTW the cops starting pay is something like 20k!! Just moved here after being in Atlanta for 3 (long) years.  I’d rather work to improve what we have than go back there ever again.

posted by: Gene Debs on September 21, 2010  8:40am

I have to say that Chief Limon seems to be supporting the officers involved.  I’m sure that goes a long way in helping them through this difficult time.  Props.

posted by: Moira on September 21, 2010  9:19am

River to State: Thanks for setting Margaret straight. (JEEZ!)

I’d like to say the solution to the problem is to relocate all the nightclubs. I’m not sure that’s the answer, though. In all honesty, I don’t know what the best solution is. While I don’t support the idea of all city bars paying a security/policing fee, I think Crown Street nightclubs should be required to pony up for this. Gotham and the like invite a whole lot of violence to town. And New Haven already has enough of that.

Area bars like the 116 Crown, Firehouse 12, Cafe 9, the Anchor and Richters, etc, should not be hit with the fine. They aren’t the problem. Considering the level of violence here, I think it’s okay to cherry-pick the offending bars—or Crown Street’s high-risk nightclub “district” from Church to York—for the penalty.

But the real concern is the violence in general, not just who has to pay to police it. People are trying to kill one another. How do we stop *that*?

There are more than just bars in this area. There are residences. There is a school. And although shots don’t typically fly on Crown Street during school hours, that doesn’t mean the kids aren’t affected. Yesteday I spoke with a 10th grader at Co-Op who was dismayed and rattled by the investigation of this weekend’s shooting. College Street between Crown and George was shut down for the investigation yesterday. That’s right in front of her school.

Our children deserve better. Our town deserves better. Our visiting students whose parents shell out tens of thousands of dollars for an education at Yale or other local colleges desrve better. And our mayor doesn’t seem to value or respect that, as usual.

I was on Crown Street Saturday night, but not to booze it up. I drove a friend down to Crown St. Towing to pick up her car, which had been towed from in front of her house because she had not yet paid her car taxes. And I’m still behind on my UI and AT&T bills because I had to shell out almost $600 for my car taxes six weeks ago.

And for WHAT? To support an administration that doesn’t value the lives of its residents or visitors.

posted by: S on September 21, 2010  9:29am

I don’t understand where the club owners are in all this.  Isn’t shooting and death bad for business?  I recognize that a free-market solution shouldn’t handle the entire problem, but shouldn’t it be at least part of the solution?

posted by: Mister Jones on September 21, 2010  10:50am

River to State—excellent post on the fine work done by the firefighters, who are perhaps the most misunderstood public servants, not just in New Haven with its paid career firefighters but in our small towns with dedicated volunteers.

posted by: Mister Jones on September 21, 2010  11:07am

Mary: “Don’t blame the shooter blame the Mayor for allowing these clubs to be downtown.”

No, I blame the shooter.  We can have a fair debate about city management of a nightclub strip and appropriate police response, but the bottom line is that some young people got into a fight and someone started shooting.  That’s criminal, reckless, irresponsible behavior—name your adjective.  A young man pulled the trigger, not the mayor.

Plus it’s still a free country where people try to do business.  Landlords have with available space and tenants are willing to take a risk on a new business that complies with the land use laws.  Do you really want the city to ban this?  It’s not for the mayor to “allow” the clubs or not.  BTW, Hula Hanks and Lansdowne are both closed.  Don’t expect them to be replaced by retail. These are nightclub or restaurant spots and are likely to remain so.

I spend many evenings downtown.  I’m older, so I don’t go to the discos, but Saturday night I was in bars on lower Crown and on Orange Streets without any signs of trouble.  Other nights I have been to Stella’s, The Owl, Geronimo’s, BWW and Bar.  The scene is thriving, and exciting.  [And at least the Quinnipiac kids are coming by bus not cars.]  It’s a real New Haven success.  The problems should be solved, but let’s not destroy a vibrant business community in the process.

posted by: i run the "ville" on September 21, 2010  11:14am

“Patrick’s solution: “I would definitely support them raising taxes for this district” to pay for more cops.”
Absolutely Not…!!!
Downtown residents, and by residents I mean property owners, already pay a higher tax rate then the rest of New Haven.  This tax goes to keeping the area clean, event nights on and around the green, plants on main sidewalks and much more.
..
NEW HAVEN’S BAR PROBLEM stems from only a few specific clubs that are involved and they should foot the bill for the added security if they must stay in business.  ... No other establishments draw in the under 21 crowd like these clubs do.  These clubs are the only ones who have actual under 21 nights. Ricky the intended target of Saturday’s shooter was celebrating his 19th birthday at a under 21 party in a downtown bar, which is by the way the old HammerJacks where the man was stabbed to death last year.  Glad they were allowed to reopen under the new name Spectrum or something.
These kids doing the shooting are from the feuding sections of New Haven, the Tre’, Tribe, Hill and Ville.  ... So since they are their own father figures who is going to tell them no when they want to go to Gotham on its under 21 “juice night”.  And, who will tell them no when they take a gun with them, because they know, that there will be others like them there too. 
I cant stand hearing how bad New Haven is becoming because these places have to make money by allowing in underage patrons….

posted by: Zalman Alpert on September 21, 2010  12:12pm

And this violence is supposed to attract new residents to Downtown NH ?

posted by: anon on September 21, 2010  1:35pm

This violence will destroy downtown New Haven and its reputation for a long time to come!  Stop the violence now. Don’t wait.  A bad reputation will linger for years even after the conditions change for the better.

posted by: Guy on September 21, 2010  2:17pm

I have noticed the trend… could some of the increases in crime be he result of those who are getting out of prison after serving 6-10 years for crimes during the last wave of issues in the early 2000’s?  Just a thought.

On another note… Memphis police have a similar “district”.  They also close the streets during last call, but they use an oversized lifeguard stand(for lack of a beter description) so the police are 30 feet above the crowd with spotters… just an idea that might be an inexpensive way to make the police that we do have on patrol more effective.

posted by: The Professor on September 21, 2010  2:55pm

Moira said: “Our children deserve better. Our town deserves better. Our visiting students whose parents shell out tens of thousands of dollars for an education at Yale or other local colleges desrve better. And our mayor doesn’t seem to value or respect that, as usual.”

Shame on everybody who is politicizing this alarming and quite nearly very tragic event.  You’d think that John DeStefano himself was out on the corner with a Mac-10 from reading some of these posts.

Stop politicizing this.  Stop taking cheap shots at the people who are spending countless hours trying to FIX these problems.  I don’t know if people remember, but City Hall has actually put forth some proposals to deal with the chronic problems at certain clubs downtown only to have them ridiculed on these very comment boards. 

How about you people stop criticizing everyone and everything and start helping find some solutions to these problems?

posted by: Moira on September 21, 2010  4:14pm

Professor,

All politics is local, and everything local is political.

I don’t blame the mayor for the shooting. He didn’t pull the trigger. But I do blame him for turning a blind eye to this situation for too long. We have a right to be angry, frustrated, and to expect more leadership from the mayor on this one.

Your suggestion “How about you people stop criticizing everyone and everything and start helping find some solutions to these problems?” is a valid one. That’s what NHCAN is all about, for one. And a solution is what we’re all hoping for here. However, in your haste to defend the mayor, keep in mind that solutions are useless if the mayor is not receptive to them. Unfortunately, his track record is lousy when it comes to being open to citizens’ solutions in times of crisis.

By the way, “you people” is a rather obnoxious way to address others. Just sayin’.

posted by: alexey on September 21, 2010  4:35pm

I enjoy the robust debate.  From an editor’s standpoint, I was amused by the school known as “University of Quinnipiac University.”  (The copy has since been cleaned up)  Carry on.

posted by: ClubDistrict on September 21, 2010  5:00pm

Encourage/persuade clubs to move to a remote part of town.  It is ridiculous that our club scene is smack in the center of town next to the finest restaurants and hotels, the shubert, etc. What do out-of-towners say about New Haven after they stay at the Omni for a weekend and witness that scene outside their window at 2am, when they return home? From the club owners perspective there is no need to be right downtown; their patrons are not catching a show at the shubert or dining at ibiza prior to hitting the clubs. The only synergy they have is perhaps with other clubs. Dont force all downtown bars and restaurants to pay to police the thugs. Places like Pacifico, Richters, Temple Grill, etc are great for the city and shouldn’t be punished.  Rather impose heavy taxes or fees on downtown clubs that attract more than 250(?) people and/or dont serve food.  Perhaps even create incentives for the club owners that do move to a new club district (ie no cost for add’l police, lower taxes, etc).  Raise the price of doing business downtown (for the clubs only); make it cheaper in the new club district.  Those that do choose to stay downtown will pay through the teeth to cover the necessary police to make it safe (ie far more police than we have now). From a club owner’s perspective, they shouldn’t care if they are downtown as long as the new club district is cool (in the eyes of the people that frequent them).  Make a “cool” club district in a remote area.  Cost of doing business will go down for the club owners and they will still get the same crowd. Downtown will be safe for those of us that don’t carry personal firearms. 

New Haven is close to being a great city. But it will never get there as long as this scene persists.

posted by: Citizen on September 21, 2010  5:02pm

Having been in the environs of New Haven for over sixty years it appears that the attempts at gentrification of this City have failed miserably.There is a reason why people leave this city, come back, and leave again.In the sixties and seventies we were afraid of muggings, where someone might hit you and knock you down to the ground.In the eighties and nineties we were afraid of stabbings and the occasional shooting. In the two thousands and two thousand and tens we are scared as hell that we may be the victim of a drive-by or gun battle. Do you see the progression? If you think New Haven has become that bad it just may be. In some European cities the police carry sub-machine guns. Is there more deterrent when the police have more firepower. Perhaps. Do we wait until the bad guys have the AK-47’s. I see that smug smile on your face. Just remember, in 1960 if you told someone that there would be a gun fight in the middle of downtown New Haven with 35 shots fired they would have laughed at you and walked away. Put a fork in the city because it’s DONE… again.

posted by: Somewhere in CT (maybe New Haven, maybe not) on September 21, 2010  5:09pm

Why don’t the bars police themselves? By this I mean, watch for antics, don’t serve already drunk customers, call for help when shit gets real. You can tell when a fight is going to break out.

What about metal detectors? In NYC they’ve been wanding you down for a long time now.

posted by: Ex-NHPD on September 21, 2010  5:56pm

Save for a couple of years in the 90’s when all or most of the clubs/bars in and around Crown Street were vacant, every NHPD Supervisor who had to deal with the Crown Street Bar Mess has received no backing.  They would only be be questioned about why there was so much noise and why the Cops on duty down there were not wearing their hats.

Though Sweeney’s estimate of the number of people down there for the clubs is a bit inflated, ( I would put it at it 4,000-5,000 on a busy night) it is by the grace of God that every Thursday, Friday,and Saturday night Bar Closing does not end in a complete disaster. I would supervise 8 Bar Detail cops, in addition to those who were working Extra-Duty at the bars.  Do the math——5,000 people, mostly intoxicated and/or high, against 15 cops trying to keep a lid on it.  It is a testament to the professionalism of those cops that things do not end badly at every bar closing.

Add to this cauldron all the people trying to drive out of the Crown Street Garage and all the mayhem that occurs inside the multi-level facility.  Bottles and urine coming down from the garage, onto Crown Street, is common. 

Among the throng of people coming out is all walks of society—Underage “Juice Bar” attendees under the influence of whatever, College kids under the influence, suburban adults with maturity issues under the influence, New Haven residents from the violent neighborhoods under the influence, Gay and Lesbians under the influence, “Professional White Collar” types under the influence.  It does not take much for any of these types to act inappropriately during the deluge of people leaving at the end of the night.  We dealt with and arrested all types—Cops, Firemen, College kids, Armed Forces people, New Haven residents, Lawyers/Law Students, Adults, Juice Bar attendees.  You name it, we dealt with them.  If a sh*t faced person is willing to fight with their “BFF”, or the Cops, what do you think happens when their bottled-up prejudices are unleashed on someone who looked at them wrong, pushed them, talked to their girlfriend,  or was sitting on their car.

It is not possible to satisfactorily respond to each and every incident.  We would put out the “Brush Fires” and deal with the “Conflagrations”.  You can not have that many large bars/clubs, all nearby, and not have these issues arise at closing time.  It was often suggested that the NHPD Videotape the Bar Closing Scene to educate City Hall, Chiefs, and Politicians of what we dealt with 3 nights a week. The Mayor and several of his CAO’s were invited to come witness the carnage; none came. We tried using the State Liquor Commission to aid us.  They are woefully understaffed and when they did determine violations by the clubs/bars and charged them, the sanctions were often too slight.

I propose the NHI shoot some video of a Bar Closing and post it for their readers to see.  Just shoot the video; no interviews of drunken knuckleheads, Bar owners, or Cops. 

I would estimate that in this decade alone, there have been at least 50 shootings/murders/serious assaults that have occurred at a club or bar in New Haven.  These were not all on Crown Street and the environs.  Jack’s or Better, Newt’s, Humphrey’s, Fireside, Vandome, among others,  have all been part of the violence that has occurred.  Some have gone out of business; others changed ownership. 

The city should start with the Crown Street establishments.  Hold them responsible for: how much liquor they serve, how much they overcrowd the club, how much drug activity is occuring, how much underage drinking goes on, how much violence occurs in/around their place, by people they served.  Give them all Food/Health/Fire inspections.  We would have “Summits” in the past with these places and their owners.  There was never any real plan for follow up accountability.  Now is the time for the City to strike while the issue is hot.  Put them on notice; hold them responsible; have some teeth in the “Or else!” if they do not straighten out.

I can’t wait to here the Mayor’s take on this and what the plan is.

To all the NHPD and YPD out there, stay safe!

posted by: Jonathan Hopkins on September 21, 2010  6:17pm

Citizen,
Your perception of crime is interesting, but it doesn’t reflect reality. So far, 2010 has been the lowest crime year since the early 1970s. Shootings are down significantly from the 80s, 90s and even just 5 years ago. In the late 80s and early 90s there were about 250-300 shootings a year, in the mid 2000s there were about 100-175 shootings a year. This year so far there have been about 65.
Crime has been increasingly sensationalized in the media (along with politics) and I think it has created an atmosphere of escalation where there is none, crime is dropping and has been for over a decade.
We have to be honest, realistic and level-headed if we are to seriously address the very real issue of crime in New Haven. Making rash decisions without thoughtful discussion isn’t going to help anything.


The ridiculousness of some of these posts makes me want to go to the Public Library and pull up archive articles from the Register from the 80s and 90s that describe incidents like the midday drug gang shooting on the steps of the Court House, the 14 homicides conducted by a the Jungle gang operating out of the Church Street South projects, the 19 shooting victims under the belt of a single member of the Exchange Street Posse, the horrifying conditions people in Quinnipiac Terrace, Elm Haven and Farnam Court lived under, etc all in the backdrop of a culturally bare, highly vacant and desolate downtown district.
Things are getting better, not worse. Let’s not scare everyone, which would result in disinvestment in the city and risk slipping back into the conditions that made New Haven one of the poorest, most dangerous and unlivable cities in the country.

posted by: gentrifyme on September 22, 2010  6:18am

I am glad to hear what JH has to say about the overall quality of life improving in New Haven. That said, nobody’s getting murdered over here in Fair Haven either, but everything being relative, I would like to now see NHPD clean up the general behavioral issues occurring over here too.  I hear the same thing, ‘It’s better then 5 years ago’.  OK, let’s keep moving it forward.  I’m thinking of other areas in the US that used to be ghetto slums and now you can’t live there for less than half a million.  Let’s go THERE.

posted by: nfjanette on September 22, 2010  1:31pm

Ex-NHPD’s comments should be required reading for anyone from city government that is dealing with the issues involved.  It is the most accurate, unbiased description I’ve seen published of the scene in that area of Crown Street.  The city needs to immediately increase the police coverage and - how about this for a party spoiler - setup DWI checkpoints in the area.

posted by: William Kurtz on September 22, 2010  1:41pm

The sobriety checkpoints should be at the exits to the parking garages.

posted by: mike on September 22, 2010  1:41pm

LONG WHARF>>>>>LONG WHARF>>>>
JUST MOVE THEM PLEASE!!!!!! 
I DON’T THINK THEY WILL MIND

posted by: Uncle Egg on September 22, 2010  3:49pm

Ex-NHPD: Excellent points. I’ve seen all of this for myself, and I too am amazed that this sort of thing doesn’t happen more often.

Once again, I think the question that we need to answer is how do other communities with downtown bar districts deal with this sort of thing? There are many cities that deal with much larger crowds on a regular basis. I’m not suggesting that they never have problems, but my guess is that we could learn a few tricks.

My family moved here in the mid-1960s; back then the only thing happening downtown was the Old Heidelberg. I for one am glad that we’ve developed a relatively exciting nightlife, but I wonder if our urban planning and policing have kept up with the growth.

JH: While your perspective is appreciated, it also misses the point. Just because the trend has been downward doesn’t mean it’s not on its way back up. Clearly, there is something new brewing in certain neighborhoods, and there are certain crime phenomena (e.g. shootings outside bars) that seem to point to new problems that need to be addressed now—before they metastasize. Remember: Even the perception that the downtown area is dangerous can be a potential calamity for local businesses.

For stats on serious crime rates in New Haven, go here: http://www.cityofnewhaven.com/police/statistics.asp

posted by: HMMM on September 22, 2010  4:09pm

Hi all, I was reading some of the postings and I want to put in my 1 cent…LOL I love New Haven. I think it is the best city in Connecticut. It angers me that the individuals who live in the out lining towns turn their noses up with their white picket fences and 2 car garages…. ehhh New Haven is sooo bad all the shooting etc. Well lets see, rapes,murders,drug abuse etc happen in your towns too. The only difference is that it’s done in secret as MONEY talks. People fill these clubs as they know that since New Haven is a walkable city , if they don’t like a club they can walk a few feet and try another. You cant do that in Hartford or Stamford. So what to do?? I like the idea of moving clubs but move only clubs like Gotham and Hula over to Long Wharf. Tons of parking etc. My only fear that if something does happen it will bring negative business to the hotel there or people may use the IKEA parking lot for whatever. I am thinking this is boiling back down to Police presence. I went to Providence RI and most of their clubs are downtown in a 4 blk radius. I noticed a large volume of cops at closing so maybe that is the ticket!!!

posted by: Jamara Newell on September 23, 2010  2:29am

Not to sound flippant about the matter but this is going to happen in any well populated night life district. While I agree the security should be beefed up I don’t think your average person should be worried about their safety.

posted by: bdh on September 24, 2010  10:50am

Crowd control is what mounted police forces do best.  14,000 people in the club district?  Officers on horseback are ideal for that situation- they are visible, intimidating and effective.  But unfortunately New Haven has all but disbanded its mounted police unit.  The crowds are not going away- so what’s the crowd control solution that the city has?

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