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Subject: My thanks…for my life, and for my street…
by Staff | Oct 18, 2013 9:39 am
Posted to: Legal Writes, The Hill
A Hill woman poured out her hear to the police chief about the conduct of one of his top Hill cops, Lt. Joe Witkowski.
The woman, AJ Wright-Santos of Plymouth Street, wasn’t complaining. She wrote a long email to Chief Dean Esserman to describe how Witkowski (pictured) has brought life-saving changes to her neighborhood—and dispelled cynicism about the police.
“You have my thanks, not only for my life and the life of my husband, but for making this street tolerable,” she wrote. “If I can pass on my complaints I think it’s only fair that I pass along my gratitude.”
Esserman then passed along Wright-Santos’s comments to the crowd at Thursday morning’s weekly Compstat data-sharing meeting at police headquarters. The chief began the meeting with a dramatic reading of the entire email message; Witkowski, who runs the Hill South district, then received an ovation from the 60-plus people gathered. The full email message follows:
From: Aj Wsantos
Date: 10/15/2013 8:19PM
Subject: My thanks…for my life, and for my street…
I don’t know whether you get a lot of “thank yous” from the citizens of New Haven, but here’s one for you if you have the time and patience to read on…
I’ve lived on Plymouth Street in New Haven since 1998, and since then, I’ve seen it all… or most, of criminal activity and the creative way in which drug/gun trafficking goes on, with the exception of outright homicide. And, as retired Military, I’ve done by duty as a “citizen” when the street called for it. But it was frustrating calling in to NHPD because sometimes I’d get a dispatcher that would be cooperative and take down my information, and sometimes I’d get a dispatcher that seemed confused, or too busy to care. Or I’d get someone that referred me to the narcotics Division…at the time when the Narcotics Division was either in turmoil or just too damned overwhelmed to answer their phone.
About two years ago enter Lt. Joseph Witkowski. He’d been assigned to the Hill District as Manager. On his desk was my cc’d letter to the Housing Authority bitching and moaning about the Section 8’s on the street that were into drug dealing.
Lt. Witkowski (herein referred to as…LT Joe, because nobody Is peak with remembers his last name) called me to find out what was going on. He listened to me over the phone for about an hour…maybe more, and trust me, I’m not the best person there is talking to a cop on the phone.
Right after our conversation, he made a visit to the street and actually stood outside and listened to me rant and rave about the drug dealing and gun trading…for over an hour…while the street went crazy doing it all right in front of him as if he wasn’t there.
I"m not the most politically correct person on the planet, and even though my language disintegrated into gutter language, Lt. Joe hung on and listened as I explained everything that was happening on my street.
That was the first thing that caught my attention. He listened. The second thing that caught my attention was…he responded.
And while the rest of the street was busy laughing in NHPD’s face, I began to hope that this “new” person would make a difference. None of my tenants got on board with me. None. My third floor tenant said Lt. Joe looked lost. My husband thought he didn’t have a clue. As I sat there and ran my mouth, I thought that the Lt. Joe was sifting through everything I was blathering on about…to figure out what he could use, and was was crap.
I ended up being right. Because within the next few days, the new District Manager, Lt. Joe, starting making the criminals that didn’t respect a damned thing…start taking notice.
I’m pro NHPD, and I’m not ashamed of it. I hate that the riff-raff teach the younger set how to disrespect the people that put it on the line every day to keep the peace, and I hated that they broke the law every single day as if nobody on the street mattered.
And don’t get me wrong…Plymouth Street DID NOT improve overnight, and Lt. Joe did ask me to have patience…but I’m not really a patient person when criminals try to take over a neighborhood. But I have to say that watching NHPD finally take control of the street, and keep coming back to address the drug-dealing and weapons trafficking won my respect and my gratitude.
I don’t want LT Joe to go anywhere. He does his job, he cleaned up most of the street, and he stays on top of things…and every once in a while I check in with him to find out when he’s leaving so that I can make sure I sell my property and get the heck off of Plymouth Street before he gets reassigned…so I can be an irritant… but me, and my husband, and my tenant are still alive because of Lt. Joe and I can only be thankful for that, because he doesn’t play, he takes all reports seriously, and he keeps track of what’s going on in in the Hill District.
I’ve only met him four times since he’s been assigned, but I have his email address and I use it when I need to. Having him assigned to the district not only put a huge dent in the criminal activities of the street, but retaliation was a huge concern and actuality that he nipped in the bud. I haven’t see my “stalker” in over a week, and I can honestly say that…due to Lt. Joe, I really have no serious concerns that the idiot can go overboard.
My husband, who was never really truly on board with trusting NHPD due to his upbringing and seeing crooked cops in action, thanks Lt. Joe for not only keeping us safe and alive, he also credits him for cleaning up most of the street…as do I.
My purpose for writing this is…I’ve been forthright about complaining to everyone about this street, so I thought it only fair that I pass along my thanks that most of this street’s issues have been addressed. I doubt that Plymouth Street will cease to be a problem due to the hardheadedness of the criminal population, but I DO thank god that NHPD is so responsivle to what’s going on…and I think Lt. Joe is responsible for most of the changes.
So…there yo have it. You have my thanks. I know that your officers are out there, putting it on the line, and, as prior military, I know how that feels…and I’m just glad that I don’t have to do it.
Anyway…if you DO replace Lt. Joe Witkowski…please don’t assign an idiot in his place because he’s made huge inroads in getting the questionable population to respect both NHPD and the neighborhood and while there are some hard-headed holdouts, from where I’m sitting, I have no doubt that NHPD will prevail.
So you have my thanks not only for my life and the life of my husband, but for making this street tolerable. Again, if I can pass on my complaints I think it’s only fair that I pass along my gratitude. I know that the city has been involved with the issues on this street, the mayors office and other offices as well, but I also recognize that if Lt. Joe hadn’t taken a serious interest in getting this street cleaned up we’d have already been looking at several homicides by now…so thank you.
New Haven, CT
Tags: Joe Witkowski, community policing
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Who said he was an “indoor cop”? Very nice Joe.
It is certainly not a surprise to read about accolades for Joe. He is a good Cop and a good Supervisor. He is a credit to the NHPD and a role model for the cops there.
NHI readers should realize that whenever they read about a bad Cop or screwup at the NHPD, those are the exceptions, and not the rule. There are far more good, dedicated, hard working Cops, at all levels of the NHPD, then there are bad ones.