HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Police departments across the state are in the beginning stages of implementing joint task forces to address the dramatic increases in both gun violence and auto thefts, issues cities and towns have been facing on their own.
Now, Connecticut State Police are encouraging police chiefs from around the state to connect with neighboring towns to get to the bottom of the upticks.
State officials identified eight epicenters of auto thefts across Connecticut including in Hartford. And the list extends to cities and towns like New Britain, Meriden, Bridgeport, Stamford, New Haven, Waterbury, and New London.
Department of Emergency Service and Public Protection Commissioner James Rovella gathered the chiefs from those identified police departments to encourage the regional task force efforts and to share information and resources about stolen cars.
Assistant to Commissioner Rovella, Brian Foley, said, “State police, the state of Connecticut doesn’t want to come in and take over. We know in each of those epicenters, there are urban police departments, and those chiefs and the surrounding communities know best in terms of how to police their own communities.”
The other part of this battle is addressing juveniles who get caught up in these car theft crimes and gun violence. State officials told News 8 there is an uptick in both violent crime and auto thefts and it’s becoming an intertwined issue.
As cars get stolen, they are used recklessly and often used to commit other crimes. So officials say this push is two-fold.
Deborah Davis of Mothers United Against Violence said, “I think the community should be connected and I think we should have that collaborative environment to create communication going forward…Because if one town provides some of the support to prevent some of the spillover going over into other towns then we would have done the job to prevent something from happening in another town.”
Gov. Ned Lamont sees the issue clearly and has directed $5-million of federal CARES Act money toward the solution. Something Foley says is the first step in addressing the ongoing issue.
“At least half of this money will be funding directly to police, to address these issues,” Foley explained. “Each town has a lot of information and a lot of issues and it’s about sharing that information, sharing that intelligence and we want those towns to come up with the best ways to combat it.”
As for the funding, it’s not clear at this time how that money will be distributed between gun violence and car theft prevention, but Foley said State Police are there to assist the local departments in their task force efforts.