Waterbury Police Look to Build Better Trust With Community

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A string of violent crimes involving kids has some calling for action in Waterbury.

There have been several teens shot in recent weeks.

“The guns need to be put down,” said Stephen Christensen who lives near where the latest teen was found shot.

On Wednesday police revealed a 14-year-old had apparently shot himself on Tuesday.

They say this was the latest example of a youth with a violent criminal history and out on release from court custody.

“It’s not just enforcement action. It’s the leadership. It’s community relations. Solving this problem is going to take a comprehensive approach,” said Assistant Deputy Ed Apicellla of Waterbury Police.

Police think part of the solution is building better relations between the department and the community.

Part of the effort played out on Wednesday.

A group of community members graduated from the department’s Citizen’s Police Academy program.

“Knowing what they go through and like their own experiences I thought that was great to learn,” said Santa Gonzalez of Waterbury.

Officers have been busy recently investigating violence and children.

In just the last six weeks in the city, a 14-year-old was stabbed to death and two other 14-year-olds and a 10-year-old were hurt in shootings.

There was also a 14-year-old from Hamden who died after being shot and brought to St. Mary’s Hospital.

“We have a core group of recidivist juveniles that are engaging in violent, major crimes. The issue is to deal with that violent crime,” said Apicella.

Helping to keep the community safe and building trust are goals of the academy.

It’s a six-week course where people get to see what it’s like to be on the force.

“A pastor once told me you have to win the battle every day. And that’s why programs like this, that’s what we’re trying to do is win the battle every day,” said Apicella.

The department runs several community programs and another academy class is planned for the spring.

And we’re told the 14-year-old who apparently shot himself in his hand and leg on Tuesday is in stable condition.

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