Some Meriden residents say they don’t feel safe in their neighborhoods and gathered at a meeting Wednesday night to ask the city to bring back community policing.
The police chief supports the program, but there are concerns about how to pay for it.
In mid-September, community policing came to an end in Meriden due to budget cuts. Some say they’ve seen a negative impact where they live.
“They're very scared. Some people want to move out of Meriden. They don't feel safe,” said North End Neighborhood Association President Steven Cardillo.
Meriden’s Neighborhood Initiative, called NI, shut down three months ago, and in that short time some say the image of their area and quality of life has fallen.
“We need the proactive presence back out there in the neighborhoods to make a difference and get our neighborhoods back on track,” one neighbor said.
At Wednesday’s Public Safety Committee meeting councilors heard from homeowners and local churches about what the loss of community policing has meant for them.
After a $600,000 budget cut, Police Chief Jeffry Cossette said the department had to reassign those nine officers and three supervisors to patrol. He requested an immediate partial restoration at a cost of $200,000. This would bring community policing back to four neighborhoods with the largest call volume.
Councilors questioned the need for the unit and noted that overall crime is down. But neighbors say it’s obvious the difference an officer assigned to their neighborhood can make.
The mayor said he supports the immediate budget increase. In order for that to go through, a resolution would need to go before the council, then go to committee, then back to the council for a vote.