Internal Report: Hartford Police Needs 100 More Officers

A report obtained by NBC Connecticut that was commissioned to analyze the levels of staffing within the Hartford Police Department concluded that 108 more officers are needed to provide full patrols of the city.

The document also criticized the city for using overtime hours for existing police as a way to make up the staffing shortfalls.

The report came to light in the midst of a firestorm for the Segarra Administration and the Hartford Police which are dealing with the 17th homicide of the year, just two shy of last year's total.

When reached for comment Friday morning, Mayor Pedro Segarra said he believes, after consulting with Police Chief Rovella, that staffing levels are good enough.

"I believe so with the overtime and the increases we’ve put toward overtime we have enough coverage" he said.

He added that adding the necessary 100 police officers could mean a tax increase in order to pay for it, which is why the city council approved 20 new recruits.

"It's been a balance trying to get sufficient coverage but also not break the backs of our residents our taxpayers and our businesses" he said.

Critics of the mayor lined up to take issue with the mayor and his handling of the crisis.

Bruce Rubenstein is a member of the Hartford Internal Audit Commission and saw the police staffing report months ago. He says there's a correlation between the rash of killings in the city and decisions by the mayor and city council.

“There is a direct nexus between Pedro’s ignoring the report and violent crime namely because there’s not enough of a police presence out in the community" he said.

Rubenstein even went so far as to say that the mayor is in fact responsible for what's gone on in the city saying, “I find it laughable that he’s consoling these families but of course he’s not telling them that he created the atmosphere for their son or daughter to die.”

Mayoral candidates vying for Democratic nomination say the mayor has proven that his public safety platforms haven't helped the city.

Judge Robert Killian, the longtime Probate Judge for the City of Hartford said the city had to prioritize hiring more police months and years ago and said they knew more police were needed.

“We have an academy" Killian said. "We have an ability to do it"
As for how to pay for additional police, he said, "I would beg, borrow, or steal the money from other functions that are less of an immediate source of concern for us.”

He said the city needs to get more police on the streets and out of their offices. He said the city has to utilize existing resources.

“We have the trainers. They’re going to be paid whether they’re training somebody or not."

Luke Bronin, the former Chief Legal Adviser to Governor Dannel Malloy, said of Segarra's attitude, “I think it’s a failure to plan and a failure to prioritize that’s been years in the making.”

Bronin said the city has to take the necessary steps to ensure that it holds on to police officers who are eligible to retire.

“First of all we have to make sure that we’re retaining as many as we can in the coming years so that we make an already bad problem worse. Secondly, we’ve got to step up our recruitment efforts. This is an urgent issue.”

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