HARTFORD - Hartford is on pace to surpass last year's annual tally of incidents of gun violence, a statistic city leaders are trying to avoid.
On Friday, they outlined their plan to beef up public safety initiatives.
Mayor Luke Bronin, the police chief, city councilors and community leaders announced the new initiatives, along with partnerships with state and federal law enforcement.
“Summer is often a time when we see an uptick in violence. We have seen an uptick in shootings over the past number of weeks,” said Mayor Bronin.
“Families that are horrified,” exclaimed Rev. Henry Brown, the Executive Director of Mother’s United Against Violence. “You got elderly people who don't even come out and sit on the porch anymore. 64 shootings now and we are lucky we are not talking about 60 homicides.”
Hartford’s plan will create an eight officer street crime unit. They'll look at daily crime statistics and adjust their deployment to follow the violence to high-crime areas of the North and South End.
“We know in the city who our most violent offenders are. We are going to go after them,” said Chief David Rosado.
They’ll get some help from the state and the feds. Connecticut state police are sending Hartford two detectives and a dedicated federal prosecutor from the U.S. Attorney's office will be tasked with making sure Hartford's most violent criminals don't get back on the streets.
“Everywhere we go as a police department we hear from our community members that this gun violence has to stop. I agree with you. The police department agrees with you. And we are prepared to stop it,” said Chief Rosado.
The Hartford Police Department is focusing on increasing their visibility. They are putting four more officers on each regular shift, increasing community policing efforts, and bringing back walking beats in high-crime areas.
James Sanchez is a Hartford city councilor and co-chair of the public safety committee.
“Some of those hot spots are Wethersfield Avenue, Franklin Avenue. Benton Street is a hot spot and in the neighborhood of Gardner Street in the North End as well.”
From policing to preoccupying, Hartford is also spending $100,000 to keep the city's recreation centers open to teens and young adults Thursday - Saturday, from 4-11 p.m., beginning June 21st through August 25th.
“All of that is in addition to the work that we are already doing and that includes summer camp for our families. That starts July 2nd. As well as our summer meals program,” explained Kim Oliver, the director of the Dept. of Families, Children, Youth & Recreation.
Leaders told FOX61 reducing violent crime goes hand in hand with tacking the opioid epidemic and making it harder to access guns.
Leaders also faced questions regarding police department staffing levels. Mayor Bronin said they are aggressively recruiting and on track to fix the staffing by the fall.