Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that he has directed state criminal justice resources -- including state police, corrections, probation, parole and prosecutors -- to collaborate with federal and local law enforcement officials in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven on implementing a program of "Focused Deterrence," designed to reduce gun violence within those three cities where shootings remain objectionably high.
"While overall crime statewide is down and is at its lowest rate since 1968, gun violence in our major cities remains unacceptably high. Last year, 94 out of 129 homicides statewide occurred in New Haven, Hartford and Bridgeport -- almost all involving guns, almost all involving young men, mostly African American men," Governor Malloy said. "Young people are killing other young people, often for no discernible reason. As a result, we're losing young people, and children are growing up without parents. It's got to stop."
The Governor announced that federal, state and local officials have agreed to a strategy of "Focused Deterrence" that is modeled after successful programs around the country in cities such as Boston, Chicago, Providence and Cincinnati and is already in the process of being implemented in New Haven. The technique is based on the concept that the vast majority of gun crimes are committed by a fairly small number of individuals within each of the cities who are already under the supervision of probation and parole officers and well known to police and prosecutors.
"On the state level, I have directed my administration to focus our criminal justice resources on this urban violence," Governor Malloy said. "We agree that no strategy will be effective without the support of the community. This means parents, clergy, neighborhood leaders, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles -- everyone working toward one goal. We are working to regain the trust of the African American and Latino communities. We need their help. The lives of these young people are too valuable not to act."
Governor Malloy said that he has directed some of the state's federal grants towards this initiative, and that state money has been set aside for this purpose as well.
"Too many of our nation's youth are stripped of the promise of a bright future by their exposure to violence and crime. Our office, together with our federal, state, local and community partners, are embarking on an anti-violence strategy that combines vigorous criminal enforcement efforts with an effective crime prevention program and strong reentry initiatives," U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut David Fein explained. "While the continued enforcement of gun, gang and organized drug crime remains our core mission, our commitment to this deterrence program, in conjunction with our office's ongoing anti-violence outreach efforts, reflects our determination to explore ways to end the cycle of violence that gravely impacts so many communities in Connecticut and across our nation. Together, we can and will make our communities safer."
Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch said, "One death is one too many -- an innocent child caught in the crossfire is unacceptable. We have been working hard in Bridgeport reaching out to the community to keep the lines of communication open to my office and the police department. I support the Governor's initiative and we will continue to collaborate with state and federal law enforcement officials to stem the tide of illegal guns used in these violent acts."
"I want to thank Governor Malloy, U.S. Attorney David Fein and the other engaged stakeholders who have dedicated so much time and energy to make this happen. I know the pain, suffering and grief that's caused by losing a loved one to gun violence. My own father was taken from me when I was very young for a truly stupid reason," Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said. "While we have made great strides in the last two years in reducing gun violence, seeing an almost 30% reduction in murders and a 15% reduction in shooting incidents, and the results of the Shooting Task Force has been extraordinary, reducing homicides by over 50% and increasing murder arrests by almost 10%, there is still much work that remains. As Connecticut's capitol city continues to improve and expand opportunities in education, income and jobs, this new initiative, which I have been studying for some time, will provide us with another terrific and collaborative tool to combat violent crime in the urban core."
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano remarked, "I want to acknowledge the leadership the Governor and state have already provided to dramatically ingrate state and local resources aimed at ending gun violence. It is making a difference in New Haven, but there is much more work to do."