Meriden residents voice anger over cuts to police

MERIDEN -- Cuts are being made to the police and fire departments in Meriden, and residents in the city are frustrated.

A public meeting was held at the South Meriden Firehouse Thursday evening on the subject of the cuts. Mayor Kevin Scarpati, the fire chief, the police chief, and Deputy Majority Leader Cathy Battista were all in attendance.

The meeting got quite heated with residents saying they felt like a price was being put on their safety.

The cuts would affect school resource officers who are members from the Neighborhood Initiative Unit and Administration, and would mean school resource officers will receive a two weeks notice sometime next month saying they will return to regular patrolling.

Residents pointed fingers at Deputy Majority Leader Cathy Battista, saying she made a horrible decision in cutting important members in the city like school resource officers.

“We have 65,000 people in the city of Meriden, 118 police officers, I don’t know how many people in the fire department off-hand but you know what? -- I’m sorry but that’s not enough police, that’s not enough fire.  Everybody is precious in this town and I don’t care. I’ve been in this town and I’ve been in the same house for 82 years -- it’s been my family for 82 years. I love this town,” said an angry resident of Meriden.

However, Battista fired back and said it is up to department heads to decide the cuts, and said her job is to simply present the amount.

“He had an opportunity to pull them and if he pulls them, it’d be only be $250,000,” said Battista.

“Community policing has been a key role in reducing our crime over the past 20 years. It’s something we don’t want to see go away. [...] The council is looking at how they can undo their decision," said Mayor Kevin Scarpati.

Residents did not leave the meeting happy. One almost walked out and said she is scared for her safety with reference to the incident at Israel Putnam Elementary School that took place Thursday morning.