Westville neighbors fed up with an uptick in crime put their heads together and came up with 50 ideas to thwart criminals and help each other find peace of mind.
The ideas were compiled by neighbor Jonathan Gordon, who had organized an earlier brainstorming session. He submitted the list of suggestions to Westville top cop Lt. Rose Dell to assess which ones are feasible.
In addition to receiving the ideas at this week’s Westville/West Hills Community Management Team meeting, Dell offered an update on crime in the neighborhood. It was mostly good news. (More on that later in this story.)
Here are the neighborhood’s top 50 crime-fighting ideas, in no particular order:
• Block watch
• Faraday Pouch—RFID shielding—for car key fobs
• Use SeeClickFix to report street lights that are out or trees/bushes that obstruct light
• Security video and lighting devices for homes (Ring, ADT, etc.)
• Motion sensors for lighting and security
• Leave front porch lights on overnight
• Bulk discount for security systems (Ring, ADT, etc.)
• Light your landscaping so it’s difficult to hide in it
• Distribution of best practices and tips for home security, car security, and personal safety with the police blotter
• Leverage people who work in our community every day such as USPS, UPS, FedEx, lawn and utility service people—ask them to be eyes and ears and provide them with best practices and tips
• Westville website/forum as a communication device
• More dogs
• Civilian patrol with dome lights on cars
• Block parties to get to know your neighbors
• Hire an armed guard to patrol overnight
• Use of the Noonlight phone app for people who walk the neighborhood
• Blue light box and/or audible alarm in public places
• Phone tree
• Emergency response system for a block watch group
• Organized neighbor meetings to get to know your neighbors
• Leaving interior house lights on at night
• Hire an off-duty NHPD officer to patrol overnight
• More use of the NextDoor Westville website
• “Soup list”
• WhatsApp group for rapid communication with neighbors
• Report overgrown landscaping that can serve as a hiding place
NHPD to ticket unlocked cars or cars with visible valuables present
• Reporting all incidents, no matter how small
• Payment in lieu of taxes to another entity for security, for example to Yale for use of their officers
• New Have to address police pay and retention
• Mobilize neighbors to attend city budget meetings
• Consider tax breaks for police officers and public works to incentivize staying in New Haven
• Put a minimum time of service in New Haven in contracts for NHPD officers
• Use trick packages that dye thieves’ hands
• Letters to the press targeting the issues that we’re facing, as well as problem properties and businesses, to put pressure on local government
• Finish contract negotiations on local government
• Police officers on the beat in Westville
• Curfews for those under 18
• Whistles to alert neighbors of issues
• Steering wheel clubs
• Hiding packages for neighbors
• Revoke the tobacco and alcohol license for Westville Quality Market
• More visibility for police—officers who park at Yale Bowl should park on streets deeper in Westville instead
• More people should walk
• Lexan covers on garage windows so they can’t be shattered
• Hide valuable so they can’t be seen from the windows
• Revive Westville Walks or establish a walking group
• Set up safe houses that children or adults can go to if they feel unsafe while
• Write down the serial numbers of items taht are attractive to pawn shops (power tools, bikes, etc.)
• A 10 p.m. noise ordinance
Arrests Made; Crime Drops
Dell had good news at the management team meeting, which took place Wednesday evening at Mauro Sheridan School: There had been no muggings or robberies over the past month in the the lower Westville flats, particularly on Alden and McKinley avenues. That area, roughly matching the boundaries of Ward 25, has been the focus of neighborhood concern and organizing.
“A neighbor was able to get surveillance footage of someone at 4 a.m. attempting to break into cars,” she said. “The good news is everybody’s car was locked.”
Thefts from vehicles also are down because people have been doing a better job locking their cars and removing their valuables, Dell said. The police also have arrested young people believed to be responsible for the crimes.
Dell also had a warning: With the holidays coming, criminals are going to be looking for a quick way to make cash. That means robberies and burglaries could go back up. There were two robberies of pizza delivery people recently, at Harrison Street in Westville and at Hilltop Road, in the West Hills portion of the policing district.
Dell said she has met with pizza delivery folks in the district and encouraged them not to deliver to anyone on foot and to make sure and call back any cell phone number to be sure that someone ordered a pizza from that number.
She said would-be robbers are using spoofing technology that generates fake phone numbers and allows them to lure unsuspecting pizza delivery people so they can be robbed. Dell is working with West Rock Alder Michelle Sepulveda on solutions for cleaning up and redesigning Hilltop Park so that it is a less desirable place to commit crimes and more attractive to the community. She also urged neighbors to be on the lookout for a man who is burglarizing apartment complex laundry rooms. He’s possibly posing as maintenance so he can steal money from the machines.
Neighbors learned from the Harp administration at Wednesday’s meeting that contract negotiations with the police union are now in arbitration, and the city is working on finding ways one day to recoup more of the cost of training officers who leave New Haven to work for other police departments.