HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — State, federal and local officials unveiled a plan Thursday that's already used in several major cities, including Boston and Providence, to help stem the gun violence occurring in Connecticut's three largest cities.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the coordinated program, dubbed "Focused Deterrence" will target the "fairly small number of people" responsible for the vast majority of gun crimes occurring in Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven.
While Connecticut's overall crime rate is at its lowest since 1968, Malloy said gun violence in the state's major cities is unacceptably high. Last year, 94 out of 129 homicides occurred in those three cities. He said most involved guns and young black men.
"Young people are killing other young people, often for no discernible reason," Malloy said. "As a result, we're losing our young people and children are growing up without parents and it's got to stop."
Hartford experienced a particularly violent weekend this month when 10 people were shot. Two of them died. Police said a 16-year-old from Windsor and a 24-year-old Hartford man were found shot to death on June 9 in separate incidents.
While officials did not want to reveal many details of the anti-gun-violence program, Malloy said the initiative, which will initially cost about $500,000, involves having law enforcement, probation and parole officers, clergy, neighborhood leaders and others work together and focus on the group that is most responsible for gun crimes in the three cities. Efforts have already begun in New Haven.
"Nothing will work unless it is supported by the community and that means it's a two-way street," said Michael Lawlor, undersecretary for criminal justice policy at the Office of Policy and Management. "It is that awareness, that consciousness that has meant success in the other cities."
Malloy said the initiative "needs to be the new norm" when it comes to combatting urban gun violence.
But Rep. Douglas McCrory, D-Hartford, said he's not convinced it will work. He was disappointed the initiative did not include a jobs component to help troubled young people who turn to guns and crime.
"If I don't offer them an alternative, then what do you think they're going to? My thing is, what are we going to do on the prevention side, what can we do to stop the flood gates from continuing on?" said McCrory, who believes that officials need to talk to the people involved in the criminal activities and ask them "what do they need to stop doing what they're doing."
"Because as adults, we can sit here and talk forever," he said. "We don't have a solution. Because if we had a solution, this program would have been solved years ago."
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