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Pandemic Gun Violence In New Haven Continues Upward Trend

Diane Orson
Connecticut Public Radio

Officials in New Haven want to address increased incidents of gun violence in that city.

Thirteen people have been killed so far this year -- more than triple the number through the same date last year. Shootings are also up.

Mayor Justin Elicker blames the rash of violent crime on COVID-19.

“It’s a combination of the economic impact that people are experiencing right now, the mental health crisis, and some typical violence intervention programs that we use during normal times were stalled or stopped in some cases,” Elicker said.

To combat the violence, Elicker says he’s reinstituting some of those intervention programs, as well as establishing a reentry welcome center to help people he says are historically more likely to experience violence either as a victim or a perpetrator.

Renee Dominguez, New Haven’s acting chief of police, says there will be more “walk beats.”

“We’ll be able to do more overall crime prevention, targeting areas that we know crime potentially is going to move to or is coming from,” Dominguez said.

Increasing the number of walking beats is welcome news to Lt. Elliot Rosa, who manages patrol of New Haven’s Westville neighborhood.

“I just want to say thank you to the chief and the mayor for allowing me to have another walking beat in the Valley Street/South Genesee Street area,” Rosa said during a crime briefing Thursday.

“I have noticed a little uptick in violence [in Westville],” Rosa said. “Walking the neighborhoods and speaking with everyone in those neighborhoods, the story’s the same: They all want to see more cops and a higher presence.”

Much of the 2020 year-to-date figure on gun deaths occurred before the COVID-19-induced shutdown, so if the pandemic is to blame for the gun violence, it’s fair to wonder whether the shootings will tick down as the coronavirus outlook continues to improve.

This post has been updated with the latest number of homicides in New Haven.

Frankie Graziano is the host of The Wheelhouse, focusing on how local and national politics impact the people of Connecticut.

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