Westville Crime Wave Riles Neighbors

Markeshia Ricks PhotoThe new top cop in Westville/West Hills is hearing from neighbors demanding solutions to an uptick of crime in the neighborhood.

Lt. Rose Dell, the new top cop in the district, got an earful during the Westville/West Hills Community Management Team meeting at Mauro-Sheridan School Wednesday night from neighbors alarmed by recent muggings on McKinley Avenue, an attempted child abduction, numerous car break-ins, and yet another violent incident at Roosevelt’s Restaurant & Bar in Westville Village.

Wednesday was Dell’s third day on the job. She assured neighbors that she asked for and received resources to help fight crime in the neighborhood. She told neighbors that there is a lead on the muggings; police were able to get the dropped cellphone of an assailant after a tussle with the neighbor he tried to mug.

“We don’t think it’s one kid, but a ring of thieves,” Dell said.

She told them that after spending a couple of weeks reading all the reports, she knows neighbors aren’t wrong in how they perceive what’s happening in the district, which includes Westville, Amity, West Hills, and West Rock. Crime is definitely up. Violent crime, in particular, is up about 43.8 percent over this time last year.

Click here to read a write-up Dell prepared for the neighborhood about recent incidents.

Dell said detectives will come out to get fingerprints from vehicle break-ins; she urged neighbors to remember to remove their valuables from their cars and lock their car doors, noting that most of the break-ins were in cars that had not been locked.

She also said that the department has given her a D-squad officer, or an officer who works the 7 p.m. to 3 a.m shift. She said she hopes that will discourage some of the more violent patrons to stay away from Roosevelt’s. That officer is the only one who works that shift for the entire city.

Around 1 a.m. Wednesday, police had responded to the third reported violent incident this year at Roosevelt’s: A man with a valid pistol permit fired at a car during an altercation with the driver, amid a crowd that was outside the bar. At closing time on Sept. 22, someone was shot in the leg. Click here to read about an incident in May and the owner’s promises to run a tighter ship.

Dell told neighbors Monday night that officers have leads on the two Roosevelt patrons involved in Wednesday’s incident. No arrests have been made, but the 25-year-old Hamden man who fired the gun is cooperating with officers and told them that another man had attempted to run him over with his car.

The shooter, a valid pistol permit holder, told police that he thought he was in danger and that’s why he shot at the other driver. Police have video evidence of the incident that corroborates that story. The case remains under investigation. This is the third violent Roosevelt’s-related incident this year.

Dell said that she and her predecessor Lt. Manmeet Colon, went to the state Liquor Commission in hopes of having the owner’s license non-renewed but were unsuccessful. She told neighbors that they could petition to have the license revoked.

A neighbor who preferred not to be identified circulated the petition at Wednesday meeting noting that he thought that the owner had done things to try curb the violence like instituting a no hoodies policy and hiring extra duty officers. But he said nothing has worked. Unlike New West Cafe, which is directly on Whalley Avenue, Roosevelt’s is tucked away in an area where there isn’t much light and where people can hang in the parking lot after the bar closes at 2 a.m.

“It was the same problem with the Owl’s Nest,” he said. “The problem is it’s not safe for his patrons and it’s not safe for the neighborhood.”

Just Brazen

Neighbor Sheila Carmon said the rash of car break-ins and neighborhood muggings have been really scary. She has lived in her home for 20 years. She described recently seeing two people walking through her backyard, which she keeps “lit up like daytime.” She called it “pretty brazen.”

Erica Garcia Young said brazen is exactly how she would describe the man and woman who approached a 10-year-old boy in what his parents believed was an attempted abduction. The boy’s mother was nearby when it happened and intervened.  A similar report was made to police about a man approaching a 10-year-old girl at her bus stop on Lodge Street, according to police reports.

“It’s scary,” Young said. “I have a daughter who walks home. How are kids supposed to get home safe?”

Young said the police response to this incident was pretty lackluster in her opinion.

“The officer’s response was, ‘It’s a good thing you were there,’” she said. “Can you imagine a mom hearing that?”

Neighbor Rosie Jacobs got a similar response from police after someone broke into her garage. She said it was her perception that the officer barely wanted to get out of the car to take the report.

Dell apologized for the lackluster responses and tried to reassure neighbors that the police department is deploying as many resources as it can to address the problems that have come up. But she also urged neighbors to be vigilant.

“The police can’t be everywhere,” she said. “You have to know who should be in your neighborhood. If you see someone suspicious, call us.”

Other solutions offered by neighbors Wednesday night included installing blue light emergency boxes, more active block watches, and neighbors more proactively using their cell phones to capture video when they see suspicious activity.

Neighbor Janis Underwood suggested that parents do what she did: trace the route to school and ask neighbors to be a safe stop that kids know and can immediately run to if they ever feel unsafe.

Westville Alder Adam Marchand said he plans to host a forum for neighbors to talk specifically about crime soon.


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posted by: Noteworthy on October 11, 2018  8:48am

In one of the three districts in the city with the highest per home tax burden - violent crime has gone up by 43% over last year. Think about it. Look at the other issues facing the city. Three years of deficits; three of the largest departments are projecting millions in more deficits; a $30 million tax hike; a fireman overdosing on the job, cops fired for falsifying reports; a Harp favorite fired for alleged credit card fraud which went undetected for months; a finance department with lose financial controls and zero transparency; a city credit card account that to say the least is abused by the city’s top brass; unauthorized raises; clothes for employees.

posted by: ebw1957 on October 11, 2018  10:13am

These same gangs are hitting Woodbridge quiet a lot. The only defense is to be proactive- motion detector lights covering the whole property. You can get 3 at Home Depot for less than $100. Just leaving spot lights on is actually least effecting, the bad guys hide in the shadows.

posted by: Patricia Kane on October 11, 2018  11:12am

It’s hard to buy police explanations of staff shortages and priorities when it’s easy to spot police cars “cooping” in the Walmart parking lot off Foxon Blvd or opposite Adriana’s or in other parts of town.
    The police cannot stop all crime, but they can establish a visible presence at hot spots and do periodic traffic speeding arrests.
  Enforcing the noise ordinance would also help.
  Trust has to be earned.

posted by: 1644 on October 11, 2018  1:48pm

When I lived on George Street, and my car got broken into, twice, no police officer came.  I called NHPD, and they gave me a report number I could use for the insurance.  In Branford, my yard guy noticed my house had been broken into.  When I arrived, there were five police cars on the scene,  They actually caught the guy, and he went to prison.  That, of course, was when John DeCarlo, an advocate of broken windows policing was chief, and before the Assembly and courts began thinking incarceration was a bad idea.

posted by: ADAK on October 11, 2018  5:42pm

Roosevelt’s has had a terrible track record. There’s a reason they’ve had to open and reopen in different locations. How can they still have their liquor license? Get ‘em to clean up their act or shut em down. It’s not hard to not have multiple gun-related fights occur related to your business in less than a year.

posted by: southwest on October 12, 2018  5:56am

As one poster stated cops parked in lots hiding…What about the brazen ones who stand out in plain site while working traffic details not directing traffic but eyes glue to their cell phones without a clue regarding their surroundings. I actually saw some people in their cars video the officers and laughing while stoped at the light..Officer never looked up it’s just a tragedy waiting to happen. Who actually supervise these rookies because most of them seems clueless when it comes to safety’s..With all the cameras around on buildings,intersection,and people have them installed in their cars plus cell phones everything can easy be collaborated.

posted by: Molly W on October 12, 2018  10:57am

As a Westville resident, this statement makes me nervous: “You have to know who should be in your neighborhood. If you see someone suspicious, call us.” I can’t ever presume to know who “should” be in my neighborhood. Hopefully, anyone can be anywhere in the city and feel welcome and unwatched. Sure, there are things to be alert to… but this statement is too broad and could stoke the vigilante spark a few residents have from time to time.

posted by: Mr. Marcus on October 12, 2018  9:08pm

The disgraceful situation regarding Roosevelt’s should deeply concern Westville residents. A major history of health hazards to safety threats to illegal activity, this establishment needs to be shut down. The owner there has a serious lack of awareness and inconsideration of others safety. The liquor license needs to go now! I pray that it doesn’t take a serious tragedy to occur there before someone takes legal action. We can’t afford to have this negative activity take place in our community and compromise our way of life. Our tax $$$ are now paying for his security issues. Roosevelt’s needs to be vacated from the village permanently. I plan to protest Roosevelt’s and sign the petition.  Ask yourselves….Is it really worth all the drama?

posted by: southwest on October 13, 2018  6:35am

Do the Liquor Comissioner ever check to see if bars owners had another business that created problems in the past?  They should because most of theses Bars Ownwers go from place to place and bring the same violent crowd with them when they relocate. He was on State Street and created havoc on the neighborhood there until neighbors demand they exit..Why people want to create violence when they go out is beyond me. What is the Liquor Comission waiting for more victims before they pull his license. All residents should be informed before a new bar is allowed in the neighborhood because of all theses high taxes we are paying and it’s putting a string on our police department when they can be doing patrolling for the neighborhood burglars and crooks..

posted by: wendy1 on October 13, 2018  9:29am

Another neighborhood in deep distress…..I live small in Wooster Sq. Park ...if I was able to afford a house large or small,  I would buy lights, cameras, signs, a big ugly dog, and housesitters.  Unless the neighbors or the cops are paying attention, any structure can be broken into.  Bars on the windows are a deterrant as it slows down burglars and rapists.  I also recommend keeping a weapon or two hidden in the bedroom (knife, bat, pepper spray) if you are a heavy sleeper or deaf like me.  Good luck Westville.

posted by: Howudoin on October 14, 2018  8:45am

It’s teue, Officers should stay visible and not hide. However I know in my area which is the largest in the city the cops there are only afforded two, yes two cars per shift. How can that be safe for city residents. And no matter how visible two cops are, that really isn’t gonna do much.
I saw some sign the other day that the police union posted about their contract and cops leaving New Haven.
I then looked at the contract that they had that ran out almost 2 1/2 years ago. City cops make 44,000 for two years? Is that for real? I wouldn’t stay either. Looking at the numbers and salary it seems like these cops are overworked and under paid.
So the problems in this city are a result of leadership. Not beat cops.