Thea Digiammerino

Meriden City Council Votes to Bring Back Community Policing Unit

A Meriden community policing program is coming back to the city.

On Monday the City Council voted to reinstate $200,000 in funds for the police department’s Neighborhood Initiative Unit following incidents of violence.

The City Council voted to reinstate some of the funding they just cut from the police department only a few months ago.

The council heard public comment ahead of their 6-5 vote to reinstate $200,000 for the Neighborhood Initiative Unit, which had been stripped in September as part of a budget cut.

Supporters of the measure said crime has gone up since the officers went away.

While councilors have questioned the need for the unit and noted that overall crime is down, police said there has been an uptick in violence in certain areas and neighborhoods have pushed back.

The mayor, who supported the refunding, said bringing it back is a plus.

“It’ll allow us to take a more proactive approach, have eyes and ears on the street, have eyes and ears on the street, get to know what’s happening day in day out within those neighborhoods,” Mayor Kevin Scarpati said.

Councilors Sonya Jelks and Miguel Castro voted against refunding the NIU, saying individual instances of crime can be handled outside the program.

“I don’t like that we always look to the police to solve issues that are occurring in the community. As a community we need to look at creative ways we can help support each other and make people feel safer,” Jelks said.

“Feeding the perception that our city is not safe, it really has to come to an end,” Castro said. “The facts have pointed in the direction that our city is safe.”

The money will fund four officers and one supervisor for the NIU. The mayor said he wants more officers added and hopes that can get done in the next budget cycle, which starts on July 1.

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