HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Hamden has been experiencing a spike in crime. To try and combat that, town officials and community activists met virtually Wednesday to discuss what is being done to address the uptick.
It’s the latest effort in the town’s “Crime Prevention and Community Resolutions Discussions,” which began in January.
The purpose of the meetings is to “update residents on efforts being taken to address increases in crime and to facilitate healthy discussions and resolutions regarding crime prevention and public safety within the town.”
One of the more horrific crimes within the town recently was the sexual assault of a child.
Police said 37-year-old Antwuane Darden, a registered sex offender, had illegally entered a home on the morning of Feb. 6 and sexually assaulted a young child while he or she slept.
Darden was arrested and charged with sexual assault, home invasion, and risk of injury to a minor.
News 8 spoke with the town’s mayor ahead of this third virtual discussion.
“I think there’s been a ton of concern, and I totally hear that and understand why,” said Mayor Curt Balzano Leng before the meeting. “These are serious issues and people don’t want to feel unsafe in their neighborhoods.”
Leng said, in the last year, they’ve seen an uptick in car thefts, burglaries and shootings and that’s something they’re addressing and tackling.
“We’re doing some really good police work, and I’m extraordinarily proud of our police department and the efforts they’ve taken,” Mayor Leng said during the meeting.
“It’s starting to get the message out to the perpetrators of these crimes,” said Police Chief John Sullivan.
Hamden’s police chief spoke about two units: the crime deterrent unit and the intelligence unit. He said these units work hand-in-hand and are already making a big impact.
“Those two coordinated efforts have looked into where the crimes are occurring and then we have deployed personnel out to those areas…The reason we are kind of catching the people in the act is because of the intelligence that we’re getting.”
The chief said, comparing last year to this year, they’ve seen a rise in the number of motor vehicle thefts, robberies and shootings, but “every other crime is actually down for the first two months of the year.”
They hope through these Zoom discussions to keep residents up-to-date on what’s happening. They’re also hoping to hear concerns and ideas on how to make the community safer.
Kim Washington, President of Mothers Demand Action & Hamden Block Watch Leader said, “I am seeing more police officers patrolling my area which is the southern part of Hamden. I’m very thankful for that.”
The town plans to hold more more discussions like these throughout the year.