That Guy Was Rolling

Peter Krausecopoftheweek_logo.jpgDave saw a driver bust through the stop sign by the park. He found his pal Officer Pete a block away, and the two set up a stakeout.

Well, not necessarily a super-duper secret surveillance operation. They stood. They watched. And they took action, to make their neighborhood safer.

If someone wanted to publish a “Dick and Jane” style textbook for how community policing is supposed to work, they could call it “Dave and Pete.”

Dave is David Muniz, a 13-year-old aspiring hotel executive chef. (“Cooking is my passion.”) David lives near Wooster Square’s picturesque park. He likes to ride his bike there and around the neighborhood.

David sees drivers speeding through the area all the time, breezing through stop signs and crosswalks. That bugs him. “They’re risking people’s lives,” he said.

The other day, in the late afternoon, David was at the park’s northeast corner. He saw a driver fly through the stop sign on Wooster Place onto Greene Street.

Down the block Officer Peter Krause was talking to a neighbor who was out picking up trash in the park. David ran up to Officer Pete. He knows him well. Krause lives in Wooster Square. He walks the beat there too. David hangs out with him a couple of times a week during his shift.

“A car didn’t stop!” David reported. He pointed to the driver. He wanted Krause to stop him.

Can’t do it, Krause told him. “I have to see it.”

So he walked with David back to the corner. The pair spent the next hour watching the cars go by. No one raced through the sign again. A whole lot of them “rolled” through—slowing down, but not stopping. Krause pulled them over one by one. He told them they were breaking the law. He issued them warnings, not tickets, and asked them not to do it again.

“He’s a really good officer,” David said later. “He makes sure everybody stops. And to be a fair officer, he makes sure he sees it with his own eyes.”

Krause started patrolling Wooster Square, on foot, in 2002. The city had walking-beat cops throughout town then. Walking beats were the hallmark of the community policing program brought to New Haven in 1990: Cops were taken out of cars, where they chased crimes after they happened. They were assigned to neighborhoods, on foot, so they could get to know neighbors, earn their trust, and solve small problems—like stop-sign running or petty thievery—before they became bigger problems.

Today Krause is the last walking cop assigned to a regular neighborhood beat outside downtown. In February 2009, city officials declared the old-style community policing and walking-beat approach dead. Mayor John DeStefano at the time called walking beats a “passive” form of policing, helpful to a neighbor for only the few seconds that the officer passes by his or her door. (Read about that here.)

Lately some people across town have called for a return to walking beats; Newhallville Alderwoman Alfreda Edwards, for instance, argues that their disappearance partly explains why neighbors don’t trust the cops enough to report information needed to solve murders.

In Wooster Square, David Muniz isn’t the only one feeding Krause information on a regular basis. He’s not the only one who has gotten to know the walking beat cop well, or to credit him with keeping one of the city’s prize neighborhoods safe and livable.

The day before David and Krause monitored drivers, the neighborhood awarded Krause a service prize, at the annual Cherry Blossom Festival in the park.

“We all know Pete. We’re grateful for him; we all feel better and safer knowing he’s around,” said Karri Brady. “He takes the neighborhood very seriously. He gives out his cell phone [number].”

Brady revived Wooster Square’s block watch after a rash of muggings last fall. She credited Krause for helping track down the main perpetrators and stopping the attacks. Krause credits neighbors like Brady—they use that cell phone number, and come up to him in person, to tell him about suspicious activity. He in turn gives them advice on preventing crime.

“When you’re a neighborhood cop, when you hear about someone getting robbed or someone’s house being burglarized, it’s personal,” Krause said. “You think: If I had been there maybe it wouldn’t have happened. It’s my responsibility.”

He called himself an old-fashioned guy walking an old-fashioned beat in an old-fashioned neighborhood.

So old-fashioned, he rarely uses a computer. He doesn’t tweet. Karri Brady does. She sends neighborhood news out over Twitter. She uses Google Groups, too. She send crime alerts to 300 people. Krause does get those emails on his department-issued Blackberry.

Mostly he works by word of mouth, phone calls, and what he sees as he walks the neighborhood. Sometimes he’ll pick up what seems like a small piece of information that eventually leads to a solution to a bigger problem.

For instance, one parent told him about a teenager who stole her son’s basketball when the boy visited a housing complex on Artizan Street.

First Krause suggested to the mother that she not have the little boy cross a busy street in traffic to hang out alone at that complex.

Then Krause went to see the teenager. He found him at the complex. The teen’s friends and family were there, too. The teen told Krause that, yes, he had taken the basketball. He was bragging.

“You mean, you didn’t give it back to him?” Krause asked.

“No. I snatched it out of his hand,” the teen responded.

Krause turned to the relatives.

“Does anyone see anything wrong here?” he asked. No one said anything wrong.

Krause gave the teen another chance to polish the story.

“Maybe you’re using the wrong words because you’re trying to be cool,” he suggested.

“No, I snatched it out of his hands.”

Krause said that he felt “in a corner,” that he needed to arrest the teen, because he admitted to a felony.

That was a year ago. The incident was minor enough to keep the teen out of jail.

He kept causing trouble in the neighborhood, Krause said. And when the rash of robberies began, details he received from neighbors and other cops seemed to point to the same teen. It took a while, but eventually police put together enough evidence to charge the teen, among others, with some of the robberies and to put an end to the rash of attacks. Krause said the cops believe the teen was the “ringleader.”

Later this week David and Krause were back at the corner of Wooster Place and Greene Street observing the cars. It was around noon; school was out for spring vacation.

Out of uniform (he works the night shift), Krause, who’s 45 and taught martial arts before joining the force nine years ago, wore a denim shirt unbuttoned and loose, concealing a pair of handcuffs.  Also concealed: his department handgun. Even when he’s off-duty, he’s found, he’s still a cop, and sometimes needs the tools of the trade.

In any case, he’s always watching.

“That car right here!” David cried. “He didn’t even slow down!”

Krause said it makes sense to warn stop sign rollers rather than ticket them the first time, in part because drivers don’t even realize sometimes that they’ve failed to stop.

“Some people think they’re stopping,” he said. “They feel the front of the car dip down because they’re pressing the brake.”

Even he does that sometimes when he’s not paying enough attention, he said. That morning, when he was delivering a morning tea to his girlfriend at her job (part of what he calls an old-fashioned romantic routine), he might have inadvertently rolled through a stop sign when no one else was coming. He has a rule for such cases: He said: He gives a pass to the first person he sees doing that when he returns to the beat.

The first one. He’s not letting up on stop sign rollers any more than on muggers, he said, because it all adds up to preserving quality of life in a great neighborhood.

“People are friendly with each other. People say hi” in Wooster Square, he said. You always find neighbors walking dogs or pushing strollers through the park, or doing group clean-ups, planting flowers. They care about the place. A neighborhood walking cop can’t help but care, too.

Read other installments in the Independent’s “Cop of the Week” series:

Shafiq Abdussabur
Maneet Bhagtana
Scott Branfuhr
Dennis Burgh
Sydney Collier
David Coppola
Joe Dease
Milton DeJesus
Brian Donnelly
Anthony Duff
Bertram Etienne
Paul Finch
Jeffrey Fletcher
Renee Forte
Marco Francia
William Gargone
William Gargone & Mike Torre
Derek Gartner
Jon Haddad & Daniela Rodriguez
Dan Hartnett
Ray Hassett
Robin Higgins
Ronnell Higgins
Racheal Inconiglios
Hilda Kilpatrick
Amanda Leyda
Anthony Maio
Steve McMorris
Stephanie Redding
Tony Reyes
Luis & David Rivera
Salvador Rodriguez
Brett Runlett
David Runlett
Marcus Tavares
Martin Tchakirides
Stephan Torquati
Gene Trotman Jr.
Kelly Turner
John Velleca
Alan Wenk
Michael Wuchek
David Zannelli
David Zaweski

(To suggest an officer to be featured, contact us here.)

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posted by: Roger on April 23, 2010  3:45pm

Nice article, Pete is a good guy and Officer. It’s apparent by the article that Bass is a proponent of community policing, however I would have liked to read more on the con’s of community policing. That way readers would be able to have something to formulate their own opinions. The link to the past article did not provide this information either. I’d like to see more balanced articles.

posted by: Pete's Biggest Fan on April 23, 2010  3:54pm


posted by: Teach on April 23, 2010  5:55pm

Good job Pete, you do more work off duty than you do on duty.  Hey you make Tony and Lucille proud.

posted by: R on April 23, 2010  7:17pm

Thanks, Pete. Can we please have more like you? Why is it that I see countless drivers on their cellphones, drivers speeding and running red lights, but it feels like I am the only one who’s watching? No cops ever around. Or, if they are also on the street w/ us, they don’t do anything about it?  Can we please have more cops out and about watching for scofflaws and unsafe drivers? Come to Fair Haven and the Heights next - it’s a real free-for-all over here.

posted by: Ben on April 23, 2010  7:30pm

Nice find guys.

Pete is great!

posted by: 14-301 on April 23, 2010  9:59pm

never mind those 17 homicides in the last 6+ months, let’s get those infraction books out!

posted by: new haven resident on April 24, 2010  9:22am

The last walking officer in the city outside of downtown,, any correlation between the Mayor Rosa and the Italian power center and the police.
Crime, shootings ,and robbery’s are out of control city wide but here is a officer walking?? How do the rest of the citizens get a private police officer?

posted by: Gordon Smith on April 24, 2010  10:23am

No surprise to us.  Great people make great cops.  And Pete is one of the best people out there.

Gordon & Carol

posted by: Andy Ross on April 24, 2010  10:54pm

This is one great tem. I know this young man and of course we all know Officer Pete. Davis was hanging around the park while we were cleaning up after the Cherry Blossom Festival. He had his eye on a box of chocolate covered cherries we were selling at the All Things Cherry table. He was hoping they did not sell and the price would be reduced enough so he could afford to buy them for his Mom. What a great kid! Thanks Pete for being a great influence on our kids.

posted by: wooster Square resident on April 25, 2010  10:53am

Pete is a nice guy and it is great to have a walking beat cop in our neighborhood.  I am all for the walking beat cop and think all the neighborhoods in New Haven should have one for all the reasons stated in the article.

I will say, though, that the reason why many people roll through that particular stop sign at Greene and Wooster Place is that when cars are parked on the left side of Greene, those cars obscure your vision and you must roll through and stop to see if there is any on-coming traffic.

posted by: Concerned Citizen on April 25, 2010  2:40pm

It is most disappointing to hear that Mayor DeStefano no longer thinks community policing is a good idea.  It was less than four years ago that he was promoting it as a major idea. This is another example of why we find it hard to trust most politicians—they talk out of both sides of their mouths depending on how the political wind is blowing. Read his press release of Nov. 16, 2006.

John DeStefano, Jr. City Of New Haven
Thursday Nov. 16, 2006




New Haven: Mayor John DeStefano today announced a major public safety initiative aimed at increasing police visibility, curbing violent crime among youth, and maintaining the City’s commitment to community based policing. Under DeStefano’s plan, over the next two years the City of New Haven will add more than 80 police officers and 26 civilian support personnel. These additions will increase the number of police officers by 20% - for a total of 490 - and make New Haven’s police department the largest it has been in recent history. The NHPD will also become the largest police department among Connecticut communities. Currently, Bridgeport has 415 police officers and Hartford has 420.

“Today we are making a renewed commitment to community policing,” said DeStefano.
“Residents of New Haven will have the biggest, most visible, effective, and well trained police force in Connecticut. Our goal is to make New Haven the safest city in Connecticut.”

Of course, he was still hoping then to become governor of CT one day, so “Community Policing” was a GREAT idea then, why isn’t it now? Maybe he realizes he will never be Gov.

Community Policing allows residents to get to know, trust and relate to the officers assigned to their neighborhoods. This is particularly true of innercity and high crime communities.  People are afraid that if they talk to the cops who show up in their cars (who they do not know) that their names and addresses will end up being known to the thugs, and their safety will be in jeopardy.

The lessons being taught to young David are important. Clearly, those lessons were not taught to the little punk who stole the kid’s ball and then bragged about it in front of his relatives who said nothing about his behavior.

I would like to ask Roger—why don’t you provide information on the ‘cons’ of community policing? This is what civic engagement is about.  Instead of complaining about the article not being balanced, provide some balance; tell us what is wrong with it.  And please do not repeat the mayor’s line about it only works when the cop is passing your house! That is an irresponsible bit of diatribe.  When communities have neighborhood patrols and established relationships with the officers it prevents crimes and when they do occur they get solved more quickly. Bring back the beat cops; build community trust and cooperation again, and reduce criminal activities.

posted by: tristanrobin on April 25, 2010  5:10pm

I met the young man in the article (and photos) at the Wooster Square Cherry Blossom Festival. He was unusually mature and polite without being obsequious. He seemed to be having a grand time inhaling the helium from the balloons at the end of the day and sounding like a Munchkin.

He’s just one of the terrific teenagers we’re fortunate to have living here on the square.

posted by: citysavior on April 25, 2010  7:00pm

this is a good community policing story but why is Wooster the only neighborhood with a walking beat. A few walking beats into the newhall neighborhood might prevent a killing or two and may be get some info on the unsolved ones.

posted by: FP on April 26, 2010  12:14pm

It is nice to read a positive article about the New Haven Police (any police for that matter).  I agree with “Concerned Citizen’s” comments and think that community policing makes a difference, maybe there wouldn’t be those 17 homicides and there would be more Davids out there.
To clarify a few things, Officer Krause received recognition for doing a good job, not a prize. And, so taxpyers don’t think they are paying for police phones, he owns his blackberry and pays for his service with no contribution from the City.  He often can be found responding to emails, texts, and on phone calls when he is off duty, whether he is having dinner with friends and family or even on vacation.
Also, I have driven with Pete many times when he is off duty, and I have to say he practices what he preaches.

posted by: Neighbor on April 26, 2010  2:07pm

all neighborhoods need police walking the beat. see above article about a noon time shooting in wooster square park. no neighborhood is free of crime.

posted by: Greene St. Resident on April 27, 2010  10:04am

I’ve met Officer Krause and think he’s a nice guy, but I’d much prefer that he actually “walked the beat” as opposed to staying put and stopping NEARLY EVERYONE who turns left from Wooster Place onto Greene Street. Due to the low visibility at that corner, it’s nearly impossible to make the turn without “rolling” through the stop sign.

Better signage and reduced parking along the south side of Greene Street at Wooster Place would solve the “rolling” problem better than Officer Krause can, and he can get on to more important things in the neighborhood!

posted by: TangSoo1039 on May 2, 2010  10:35pm

Very proud of you. Tang Soo, Sir.

posted by: Bill on May 5, 2010  10:47am

Pete is a wonderful gentleman, a good natured guy who loves the citizens in and around Wooster St. No cop in NH cares more about this area or the people he protects. This guy suffered a serious medical condition a while back, he overcame adversity, probabally could of retired but loves the job. This recognition is very deserved and long overdue. Keep up the hard work.