NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — It’s been 81 days since New Haven leaders introduced the city’s first-ever coordinator of the newly formed Office of Violence Prevention.
Reuel Parks was tasked with tracking the city’s multi-pronged approach to combat violent crime.
“I always want to leave someone better than how I found them, so we need to pour back into our communities,” Parks said during his introductory press conference on Jan. 12.
City officials said Parks submitted his letter of resignation on March 28, and his last day is April 12.
Parks released the following statement after his resignation:
“I’m passionate about working to make our communities safer and deeply believe in the mission and work of the Office of Violence Prevention, however, this particular position was simply not the right fit for me personally at this time. I look forward to continuing to advance the work of violence prevention and supporting the most vulnerable and at-risk members of our community in a different capacity, and I wish nothing but success for the next coordinator of the Office of Violence Prevention.”
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker said the resignation is a setback, but he understands the challenge.
“These [city] jobs are tough. They often gobble you up and sometimes spit you out. I can’t blame someone for saying, ‘Maybe this isn’t the right fit for me,’” Elicker said. “But at the same time, we put a lot of investment into identifying people for these positions and obviously hope that they’re committed to sticking around.”
Coincidently, the resignation comes after last weekend’s double homicide, marking New Haven’s seventh and eighth homicide of 2023. That’s up from two this time last year.
According to Elicker, New Haven police are solving more cases than in years past and are taking more illegal guns off the streets.
“This year, we’ve taken over 80 guns off the street,” the mayor said. “Last year, at this time, we were around 50 guns off the streets.”
Elicker said hundreds of city employees are working to combat gun violence, but they still need more help keeping New Haven residents safe.
“We always need more people,” Elicker said. “We’re understaffed nearly across the board. It’s always nice to have more people, but we’ll continue to do this work.”
In the meantime, Carlos Sosa-Lombardo, executive director for New Haven’s Department of Community Resilience, will fill the coordinator position temporarily until the city finds a replacement.