Southington considers proposal to fine properties with excessive police calls

SOUTHINGTON — Robert Sargent said police calls are not unusual on Birchcrest Drive in Southington.

He grew up on the street but insists that in recent years, disturbances from a group home for teen girls just down the road have completely changed the environment.

The facility is part of The Bridge Family Center, which offers counseling and residential services for teens – many in the Department of Children and Families system.

“We’ve had multiple, multiple meetings,” Sargent said.

Those meetings are over what Sargent calls constant disturbances and police calls to the group home, which is just down the street from his home.

“It is not being run correctly,” Sargent said. “It is out of control.”

He shot video on his cell phone of a recent incident at the home.

“Fire trucks, ambulances, emergency vehicles coming and going all hours of the day or night,” Sargent said.

The Southington man said the situation is creating a dangerous situation for his community, including the 12-year-old adopted son he’s raising.

Official numbers from the Southington Police Department show there were 82 calls for service at the center from July 1, 2017 to June 30, 2018.

However, a proposed town ordinance could crack down on the home and other properties known for disturbances in Southington.

A Member of the Town Council tells Fox 61 News they are considering a proposal that would fine properties that receive 25 or more police calls in a year. Not all emergency calls would fall under the ordinance, some would be exempt.

“I think honestly it would probably be a good idea, said Michael Ahern. “I know they go through a lot and they’ve been through a lot.”

Ahern lives just across the street from the group home. While he does have sympathy for the girls he said he is also tired of all of the police calls and the disturbances.

“They’ll kind of have people sitting in waiting for them on corners for like a really long time and sitting in people’s houses,” he said.

In a statement to Fox 61 News, The Bridge Family Center Executive Director, Margaret Hann said, “The Bridge will continue to extend every effort to reduce police calls to our home in Southington. This past fiscal year, we reduced calls by over 10%.” She also goes on the say, “Our girls are not criminals but are victims of abuse and neglect.”

However, Sergeant said the issue isn’t just a matter of safety. He said it’s also a matter of how taxpayer dollars are spent.

“The deputy police chief just gave us a new numbers that, if there’s three police cars responding to a police call, These are $828 a call.”

Hann also said most of the police calls made on the home are made by their own staff.