Hamden ‘Walking Beat' Officers Aim to Build Relationships With Residents

A new initiative on the streets of Hamden aims to build a better relationship between police officers and the people they are sworn to protect.

As Guerline Jean and her two young children waited for their bus on Dixwell Avenue Tuesday, two Hamden police officers approached them, just to say "hello."

"They’ve been nice to us. I think this is a good idea to do," said Jean, a Hamden resident. "Maybe they should do it more often."

People like Jean in the Highwood West neighborhood are the ones these new "walking beat" officers are trying to reach.

"I’m not only learning about the area, but the people themselves and finding out what their needs are," said Officer Christopher Sheppard.

Sheppard and Officer Christina Giori said they are already connecting with city residents.

“It’s not people calling the department.It’s people coming up to us," said Giori.

Foot patrols faded away in the mid-1970s in many places, but in Hamden they are making a comeback.

"People want to see police officers," said Police Chief Thomas Wydra. "The best way to see them is face to face."

The walking beat officers will work Tuesday through Saturday evenings into the fall.

"It’s more personal," said Jean. "I like it like that."

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