While bias in statistics can make crime difficult to measure – and exact causes almost impossible to pin down – pretty much everyone agrees that crime has increased significantly over the last year. Tragically, Hartford and the surrounding areas have been especially hard hit. 2021 was Hartford’s deadliest year since 2003, prompting Mayor Luke Bronin, a Democrat, to tell the Hartford Courant: “This was our most difficult and heartbreaking year in recent memory when it comes to homicides and the fact that our experience was shared by cities across the country is little comfort”.
Indeed it is not, and it’s time we do something about it.
That something is not defunding the police. We’ve seen that approach backfire in Minneapolis, San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, Burlington VT, and countless other cities where violence and chaos have only increased. It’s been such a disaster, that the mayor of San Francisco had to publicly walk back her defunding measures, admitting she instead had to “take the steps to be more aggressive with law enforcement.” Similar statements have been made by New York’s new Mayor, Eric Adams, a retired police officer who was elected in part to undo the damage done by his predecessor’s progressive policies on crime.
The answer isn’t undermining our police officers’ ability to do their jobs either, though John Larson has advocated for policies that do just that. He jumped onto the bandwagon to support Connecticut Assembly Bill 6004, which, among other things, allows police officers to be personally sued. While oversight, checks, and balances are all crucially important, exposing our officers to lawsuits would be a huge mistake. Doing so weakens their ability and confidence in making arrests by opening them up to attack from damage-seeking lawsuits that may not take the nuances of policing into account. We must support the police officers who tirelessly strive to keep our communities safe, not undermine them. Working against them helps no one. And, as we’ve seen in the fallout from places that have taken radical anti-police measures, it is disproportionately those in already violent and unstable neighborhoods who are most hurt by decreases in police effectiveness.
We recognize our country has a history of unfair treatment to people of color and this has led to a lack of trust in our criminal system. We recognize the need for work to rebuild trust through proper training and oversight. These goals should not be confused with universal police criticism we see from the far left.
So what do we do?
To start, we’ll also need to overhaul our systems for paroling those who have committed violent crimes and responding to officer misconduct. For parole, we’ll need to ensure there is enough pre-release evaluation and post-release oversight to prevent one-time offenders from becoming repeat offenders. For officer misconduct, we’ll need to ensure that officers are held responsible in the rare cases where infractions do happen, which increases the effectiveness of our police forces and strengthens their relationships with our communities. We all benefit from oversight boards that objectively review conduct rather than those that have representatives looking for self serving political points. Creating trust through fairness and oversight.
I would be a strong advocate to increase our investment in education, safe after-school programs, summer youth programs, high school services for career plans and services for members of our communities struggling with mental health and drug addiction. Interventions here will not only extend opportunities for success and stability to countless more individuals, but will also help keep people from starting down paths that lead to crime.
While crime is currently a huge concern throughout our district-it is something we can address. Advancing solution-oriented policies grounded in empathy and respect for everyone is the answer. That’s what I’ll do as your Congressman.