Hartford City Council Meets with Police Chief

A violent summer prompted the Hartford City Council to demand answers on Monday night.

Council members held a special meeting to question Hartford Police Chief James Rovella on his plans to curb crime.

“What do we need to do next to make the city safer?” asked Council President Shawn Wooden as he came face to face with the Police Chief about the recent shootings.

“The increases hit is us in June, July and August,” Rovella explained.

Rovella admitted shootings were up 9% from the same time last year.

He did not have an exact reason why, but said the budget could be to blame. He’s had to cut down on overtime costs, and staffing of the Shooting Task Force.

“We manage money on a day to day basis. We have to be fiscally responsible,” Rovella said.

The Hartford Police Chief says that he needs almost 50 more officers to offset a current shortage and dozens of upcoming retirements.

Neighbors at the meeting backed him up.

“I want the council members to get their act together and let the Police Chief do his job. Give him the funding to do it,” Hyacinth Yennie explained.

The City Council did approve 40 new hires; some of the money would come from state grants. The goal was to get them on the force next year. “This council is committed to supporting what we need,” explained Shawn Wooden.

In the meantime, the Police Chief decided to put a new substation in the North End where most of the crime takes place.

This will be a way to make police more visible in the area. The plan is to build it near Holcomb and Coventry Streets and start running it in the next few months.

“We already met with the architects and talked about what kind of staffing levels we'll have there,” Rovella added.

His main objective is to find new ways to fight crime with fewer resources to make the streets safer. “We're doing the best we can we've had a difficult summer,” Rovella said.

The Police Chief also told City Council he was focused on his Faith Based Initiative. It’s where law enforcement works with religious leaders to help curb crime in high risk neighborhoods.

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