Henry Fernandez’s Plan to Reduce Crime in the City of New Haven

The last nine days have seen an incredible amount of violence in New Haven:       Police were shot at while investigating a robbery on Saturday, August 17th outside Club Vandome. 18 year old Devaante Jackson was shot and killed at Rosette and Hurlburt streets in the Hill on Thursday, August 15th. 22 year old Torrance Dawkins was shot and killed at the Cheetah Club on East Street on Sunday August 11th. 23 year old Jordan Rampert was shot outside Lincoln Bassett School in Newhallville on Sunday, August 11th. He survived. A 41 year old man was shot in the face at Dixwell and Henry Streets in Dixwell on Sunday, August 11th. He survived. An 18 year old was shot at Farnam Courts on Grand and Hamilton Streets on Monday, August 12th. He survived.

We need a comprehensive response to this violence. Young adults are dying. Children are being influenced to make bad choices. Our neighborhoods are at risk of being undermined. And our police officers are being shot at. These are all unacceptable. A Mayor’s job starts with ensuring that the people of the City of New Haven are safe. It is also a Mayor’s job to ensure that police officers are able to return to their families safely every day. Anyone who shoots at a police officer must go to prison for a very long time. Henry believes that to fulfill the vision of a unified New Haven as One City, crime reduction can’t be limited to unilateral action by law enforcement or simply having more police officers on
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patrol. Efforts to reduce crime are most successful when they proactively engage affected communities. This means that neighborhood residents must be made active partners with “a seat at the table” and a voice in determining how to improve the quality of life in every New Haven neighborhood. It means that the police must be supported. And it means that the police must fully engage with residents in a respectful and responsive fashion such that every New Havener becomes a part of the solution. As a resident of Fair Haven, Henry and his family have practiced what they’ve preached by working closely with neighbors and district police officers to join forces to address drug-dealing and prostitution in the neighborhood. Ultimately Henry believes that we need a four pronged approach to crime reduction: 1. A deeper commitment to community policing including neighborhood walking beats as well as a strong sense that community members and police officers are true partners. To deepen community policing, Henry will introduce the concept of “legitimacy1” where the public considers every interaction with the police as legitimate, positive and supportive. This will include significant training for officers and that police managers are held accountable for ensuring “legitimacy” is an essential part of policing in New Haven. The theory of legitimacy is that when people perceive their police as legitimate, they respect the authority of the police and are more likely to follow laws and to assist the police in their jobs. Legitimacy ensures that residents will be more likely to be partners, joining block watches, calling 911 when they see a crime, and acting as witnesses to crime. If we call the police and they come in a timely fashion, communicate effectively and resolve the issue we call about, then inform us of the action taken, we perceive the interaction and thus the police as legitimate. Then we are much more willing to call the police the next time we see a crime, as well as more willing to be a witness or join a block watch. On the other hand, if we call the police and they do not come, or they come late and then tell us there is nothing they can do, we are much less likely to report a crime the next time we see one and much less likely to participate in any other form of crime reduction. We also need to be sure that our police have the support they need to be successful as community based officers, including training, education, and the opportunity to grow within the department.

2. Addressing the large number of people returning from prison into New Haven every month by working with the State of Connecticut and appropriate non-profits long before these prisoners return. On average 100 people enter New Haven from prison every month. These people are much more likely to commit crime and more likely to commit violent crime then other citizens. In the six to twelve months before these individuals return to New Haven, we need to take the steps that we know work in reducing their
1

See for instance “Legitimacy in Policing: A Systematic Review” at http://www.campbellcollaboration.org/lib/project/141/

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likelihood to commit crime again, including helping them find housing, reconnect with families, get into job training programs and start on a path to further education. In particular, New Haven needs to begin to significantly impact the two-thirds of people who are at end of sentence (not on probation or parole). Currently these individuals receive no services. This has to change. Finally, New Haven can no longer be a dumping ground for people who did not live in New Haven before they went to prison. Because New Haven has shelters and many other towns do not, the Connecticut Department of Corrections often drops people in New Haven no matter whether they ever lived here or not. The state legislature and governor must act to end this practice. New Haven must work with the Department of Corrections to provide resources to other towns so that people being released can return safely to their hometowns. 3. More aggressively intervene with youth. As a co-founder and executive director of the afterschool and summer camp program LEAP, Henry has worked extensively with young people in New Haven’s high crime neighborhoods, building successful alternatives to crime. Our young people need to have appropriate activities and we need to be sure that there are summer jobs available for teenagers. We know what works. Provide children with safe and developmentally sound programs outside school and we can dramatically reduce the number of children drawn into gangs, drug use and other high risk behavior. Henry commits to building the coalitions and programs necessary to have a comprehensive infrastructure for our children:  In each neighborhood ensure that at least one school building is open through the evening during the school year providing safe, age appropriate activities for neighborhood children. Work with high quality non-profits to provide developmentally sound, mentorship, arts, athletics, and educational programming. Rebuild the city’s non-profit youth infrastructure such that we programming for children in every neighborhood and citywide. This includes being sure that every child has access to quality after school and summer camp experiences. Engage the city’s arts organizations to open more slots for children to participate in arts instruction. Work with concerned community groups to open a full service community center in the Dixwell and Newhallville neighborhoods. Ensure that every teenager who wants a summer job has access to a summer job. This is not that expensive and must be accomplished. Summer jobs help teach young people the value of work and how to engage appropriately in the workplace. They also help build a young person’s resume for college entry and for future employment. Finally they help address issues of poverty.

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4. The Governor should act immediately to stop the tsunami coming with Keno gambling to New Haven and other cities across the state. This gambling game would be located in New Haven restaurants, bowling alleys, bars and convenience stores. HartfordBusiness.com now reports that Connecticut is preparing to open 1000 Keno locations starting January 1. Research indicates that the game is highly addictive. Bringing Keno to New Haven will:     Increase poverty. Increase crime. Introduce children to gambling at a young age as they will observe adults gambling in restaurants and bowling alleys. Increase addiction.

At a time when crime is skyrocketing in New Haven, we cannot have Keno introduce even more crime and poverty to our city. Senators Harp and Looney brought Keno to New Haven in a backroom deal. There was no public debate and no public discussion. Otherwise it would never have gone forward.

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