Hartford PD adding more officers to neighborhoods using $1.9 million grant from DOJ

Hartford

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The City of Hartford is looking for more police officers to patrol the streets, and the federal government is paying.

These officers couldn’t come at a more critical time. With stolen cars, carjacking, and armed robberies in the news almost every night, these officers will help bolster the police force.

Hartford Police respond nightly to calls regarding active crimes, but they are also working behind the scenes with the community to stop crimes from happening in the first place. Now, a $1.9 million grant from the federal government will add more officers in the neighborhoods.

The federal government gave this grant to Hartford because they like what they see in their police department.

Anthony Coley of the U.S. Department of Justice told News 8, “Innovation is important and how they are going to use the funds on how they’re going to build trust between law enforcement and the community they serve.”

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin said they are also working to build a more accessible and open police department as they work to build the force back to full capacity.

“The work that departments are doing to engage with the community, to partner with the community, to build transparent, accountable police departments,” Bronin said. “We’re proud of the work our department has done and proud that the Department of Justice recognizes that.”

The $1.9 million will add 15 officers to the department, but it will be difficult to fill those additional slots on top of the vacancies they have from retirement and attrition.

The mayor explained, “There’s no question that there have been fewer applicants for police departments across the country. This is a challenging time for police departments in every city across the country. But we’re still seeing some great applicants and we look forward to continuing to bring on dedicated, diverse classes of new recruits.”

The grant is specifically for community policing, boots on the ground, officers in the neighborhood working with Block Watch, and groups like it. That way the officers know the people and the people know the officers; they believe that is the most effective way to spend the money.

Hyacinth Yennie, chair of Maple Avenue Revitalization, said, “I think community policing is so effective. When the police officer knows your neighborhood you get a lot more things done, you get your community feeling much safer.”

Yennie looks forward to seeing fresh new faces in the neighborhoods, walking the beat, and patrolling the streets. But she thinks some of the money should be used for raises, to keep the officers they have now from going to other departments or leaving the job altogether.

“We train our guys really well, but we train them and it doesn’t take too long before they say, ‘well you know, this isn’t quite for me.’ So we have to figure out how we can be competitive,” she said.

The Hartford Police chief says they are working on that, to retain the police officers on the force as well as hire new ones, but it is difficult as the candidate pool continues to dwindle.

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