HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – Hartford and New Haven are two of Connecticut’s largest cities. They are close in size and population, but they saw some big differences in crime in 2022.

Homicides in particular were up in Hartford and down in New Haven. Hartford saw the most homicides in two decades while New Haven cut their number nearly in half compared to 2021.

“This is a complicated problem to solve,” said Mike Lawlor, University of New Haven Criminal Justice Associate Professor.

The mayors of Hartford and New Haven agree that reducing fatalities is a top priority, but in 2022, there were 39 homicides in the Capital City compared to 34 in the year before. New Haven’s numbers improved from 26 homicides in 2021 to 14 in 2022.

“Compared to what it was like in the early 1990s, there are just far fewer murders, but Hartford continues to be an outlier and maybe there’s a reason for that,” Lawlor said.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin says combatting gun violence is a priority. He said this year, social programs will continue to grow like their intervention program based in hospitals. He says changes need to be made and not just at the city level.

“Gun violence leads to more gun violence and retaliation leads to retaliation,” Bronin said. “We have to tackle this issue as a state while we have most of the strong common-sense gun laws in the country. I’m not sure consequences right now reflect how serious that gun issue is.”

Lawlor says social programs and community policing have proven to make a big difference and is something New Haven is doing well.

“New Haven has really taken to heart this preventative strategy in terms of creating relationships with the community,” Lawlor said. “Hartford, I think, lags in that respect.”

New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker touts the city’s social programs like Youth Connect, Project Safe Neighborhoods, and Project Longevity, but says there’s still work to do, and cities can work together.

“That very honed targeted approach towards individuals we think are particularly at risk is something that we are pretty proud of in New Haven,” Elicker said. “I think what’s important is we work closely with our municipalities to support them.”

Just hours in 2023, New Haven saw the first homicide of the year.