Hartford’s mayor juggles money, resources in fight against gun violence

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HARTFORD--Walk into the office of Hartford's mayor and find a man playing a complicated chess game.

Some parts of his city are under siege from gun violence, and he is battling with the state to retain more than $5 million in municipal funds, but he has to find a way through all that to keep up the public perception during his re-election campaign.

That is just some of what Fox CT learned when invited to trail Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra for a day behind the scenes of his job on Tuesday.

Segarra started off his day with a constituent, a community volunteer at a local North End church.

Then, his day quickly switched to solutions to combat a recent rash of violence in the capital city. Hartford has endured 12 shootings, four of which were deadly, and a fatal stabbing in just over two weeks.

"Now we're seeing an increase in violence so now it becomes even more crucial for us to like, amp it up," Segarra said.

The mayor and close advisors strategized to "amp it up" with more youth employment under a city program that pays for internships for kids ages 14 to 18. Segarra said he hopes to add an additional 200 positions to the current 1,200 or so spots with help from corporate sponsors. His challenge: funding.

Just a week ago, Segarra and the City Council agreed upon a city budget based upon a state budget proposed by Gov. Dan Malloy, which would cut $5.1 million in municipal aid to the city. Now, Segarra must wait for the legislature to come to a final budget agreement to see if he will get the money back.

"Every time I see them, it's just a consistent message. Get us our money back, get us our money back, get us our money back," Segarra said of his conversations with Hartford's state delegates.

Additionally, the mayor has a long term challenge with the police department, which is understaffed according to a recent staffing analysis. During his daily briefing with Police Chief James Rovella, Rovella said that the department is relying heavily on overtime to overcome staffing issues.

"That is something I worry about all the time. How many hours can a police officer work and be a productive employee?" Rovella said. "Our fix is a 3- to 5-year replacement of the 70 to 90 officers I think we need," he continued.

On Wednesday, Segarra held a peace and progress rally in Hartford to bring the community together and reassure people amid all the violence.