Community leaders call for attention to Hartford violence

HARTFORD --  Community activists are calling for Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin and city officials to better address crime in the city.

“When is it going to end?” said Maple Avenue Revitalization Group Chair Hyacinth Yennie. “Can’t we get up a whole month without having to worry about someone getting shot?”

Community leaders and activists directed that question to Bronin and the Hartford City Council during a press conference at Latino Community Services in Hartford Monday.

They’re concerned about what they call a surge in crime and gun violence, including an early morning shooting on Wethersfield Avenue that left a 38-year-old Hartford man seriously injured Monday.

One of the events organizers, Jessica Inacio, who is on the ballot as a candidate for the 4th House District during a special election on June 4th.

“Early this morning we saw the 67th shooting so far this year,” Inacio said. “That is up from 50 at this point last year. And double the 34 at this point in 2016.”

In 2017, there were 29 homicides in Hartford, which is up from 14 the previous year.

So far there have been seven homicides this year.

Although crime often spikes during the warmer months, community members said the uptick in crime is also due to a lack of city police officers.

They pointed to an independent report showing a need for more officers, which was ordered by former Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra in 2015.

Community leaders are calling on Mayor Bronin and city officials to provide more funding to support the police department and hire more officers.

“Our police department at 400 officers, is still 100 officers below optimal staffing levels,” Inacio said.

Mayor Bronin’s office said the city has recruited 66 police officers since the start of 2016, 32 of whom are black or Hispanic.

Hartford Police Department also recruited 47 officers between 2012 and 2015.

The city will also be taking more applications for new recruits in June.

Yennie said more needs to be done.

“We need to make sure our mayor, our council members are seeing what we’re seeing,” Yennie said. “We can’t just lay back and say 'oh well it’s just Hartford and it’s ok'. It is not ok.”

The group has the support of Hartford City Council Miniority Leader Wildaliz Bermudez.

“That’s why we’re here in solidarity calling attention to the state to make sure we have the services that our youth and our overall community needs so that there are no more shootings in the City of Hartford,” she said.

Mayor Bronin’s office said the city has also assembled a community response team to respond to these issues.

Community activists are also asking for more state police to support the city police as well as funding for community programs to address the drug epidemic and illegal dumping.