Southington residents angered following police response to Bridge Family Center

SOUTHINGTON – Residents in Southington are fired up after they said their quiet neighborhood is now interrupted with constant police cars..

This all stems from the Bridge Family Center, a home for teen girls dealing with personal issues.

“I didn’t have a lock on this front door for 30 years at this house. It’s locked now,” said Robert Sargent of Southington.

What neighbors once called a quiet neighborhood is now anything but, and they say it is all because of the center on Birchcrest Drive.

“You worry about things happening, the safety of all of us and our property, like our cars,” said Michael Ahern of Southington.

The Bridge Family Center offers counseling and residential services for teens, many of them in the DCF system. Residents said cars have been vandalized in the past and they worry the girls are responsible.

“We’ve had a girl who used to come to our house a lot and ask to use our phone,” added Ahern.

At a recent meeting with Southington police, Sargent said they have had 71 calls and 14 arrests within six months and they all come from the center.

Margaret Hann, the executive director of the Bridge Family Center said "unfortunately one of the coping mechanisms that our girls have adopted is running away. When a girl runs away as part of their safety plan, we make a report to the police department. We frequently drive to the station to file the report to avoid police cars coming down the street but periodically, the police must come to our house to take a report. We have instructed our children not to walk in the neighborhood by themselves, stay out of the front yard and to be cognizant of their neighbors’ space.”

Town Council member Victoria Triano said the town wrote a letter to DCF addressing this issue and said they will be meeting with council members next week.

“We have police with dogs going through the yard with flashlights at night. It’s crazy at night,” added Sargent.

Residents said they are also concerned the value of their homes will go down because of how close it is to the center but in the meantime, they said it has become a daily issue they are getting used to.

A town council meeting will be held again next month along with a separate meeting with Southington police – both of which the public are invited to.