New program trains sights on gun violence in major cities

Two weeks after a series of shooting incidents in Hartford, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Thursday the state will spend $500,000 on a program to decrease gun violence in the state’s three major cities.

Malloy, joined by legislators and municipal officials, said the “Focused Deterrence” program would be a concerted effort between federal, state and local authorities to stop gun violence in Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven, where nearly 75 percent of Connecticut’s homicides took place last year.

Malloy announces gun violence program

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy at a press conference to announce a program to curb gun violence in Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford.

The program is modeled after successful programs in Providence, Boston and Chicago; and aims to use combined resources in order to target specific people.

“The vast majority of gun crimes are being committed by a fairly small number of people in each of those cities, and law enforcement, again for the most part, knows who the individuals are,” Malloy said. “So what do we do? We focus on them.”

Malloy refrained from going into the specifics of the program’s implementation or to identify where the $500,000 would be spent. He said the program includes increased vigilance by the probation department and providing more opportunities for employment.

The state currently spends millions of dollars on programs that work in broad strokes to address crime, recidivism and other related issues, said Michael Lawlor, the governor’s adviser on criminal justice policy.

Under the joint effort, “The whole point is to take everything that we already do and focus on these cities,” Lawlor said.

Although nearly 30,000 people are released from prison every year in the state, Lawlor said the joint-effort’s focus will be on a very small part of that group, not on all of those released.

While these cities already have programs in place to address gun violence, the system is disjointed, Lawlor said.

Malloy said the new initiative is already being implemented in New Haven, where there was a 50 percent increase in number of homicides between 2011 and 2010, according to the preliminary FBI Uniform Crime Report.

Though “Focused Deterrence” is not completely in place yet, New Haven Mayor John DeStefano said the city’s own initiatives have already reaped a substantial decrease in violent crime.

Last year, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra announced a shooting task force that, with the help of Malloy, has worked with the federal, state and local government to reduce the numbers of shootings and homicides.

“We know that working together in partnerships can have success in bring down crime and bringing down shootings,” Segarra said.

Community involvement is essential for the success of the effort so the law enforcement agencies are not seen as adversaries, Lawlor said.

U.S. Attorney David Fein said no new federal resources would go the enforcement effort.