Waterbury Police pop-up event to boost trust in them and the COVID vaccine

New Haven

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Police are used to responding to the Truman Apartments public housing complex on North Main Street. It’s an area that has seen several shootings lately. Concerned residents spoke to News 8 about them but they didn’t want to be seen on camera.

“Couple kids ducking bullets the other day,” one man said.

“A lot of stuff man,” said another resident. “Got to have your eyes open.”

Everyone could see a lot of activity in one of the main parking lots Wednesday afternoon. It was a community pop-up event filled with police officers dancing with kids, letting kids pet their police horses and interacting in a positive manner.

Chief Fernando Spagnolo told News 8 events like these are vital when it comes to community policing leading to safety and decreasing crime due to the development of better relations with residents.

“I think it’s a challenging section of the city right now,” said the chief. “Certainly some issues going on in that particular area. That’s why it’s even more important for us to conduct our outreach focused on the Truman Apartments right now to show the people there that we are really concerned.”

“But, we’re not going to gain anybody’s trust overnight,” he said. “To me, it’s really important to have open lines and transparent lines of communication. I think through open communication and making communication available, we can form relationships and eventually rise to a level of trust.”

They also used the pop-up event to try to get more residents to trust the COVID vaccine. Griffin Health held a free clinic there, giving out free tickets to Quassy Amusement Park as incentives.

News 8 spoke with one man who said bringing the clinic directly into their community was a smart move.

“It was easy,” he said. “And they came right here.”

Other community groups were also there giving out free school supplies. One mother told News 8 the event was good for the community.

“It’s wonderful,” she said. “We need a lot more officers, a lot more activities here for the kids.”

Another resident was skeptical if the good times would last.

“Once they leave, everything’s gonna go back to normal,” he said. “That’s how it is.”

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