West Hartford Forums

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Watch Your Block, West Hartford

Posted by whforums on July 29, 2008

The recent spike in burglaries in West Hartford has caused some alarm around town (and in its internets). First, there was the report of 35 apartment complex burglaries. Then there were the reports of the 14 house burglaries on Loomis Drive alone. Back on July 11, the Courant reported 18 house burglaries in a 40 day period, mostly on Loomis Drive, Flagg Road and in the “Eastern” part of town.

As reported yesterday by Rachel Gottlieb on the Courant’s Greater Hartford Blog, James Strillacci, our chief of police, has written an open letter to the community of West Hartford (the letter is at the bottom of her post – and I’m imagining it’ll be in your mailbox soon). Only a few weeks ago, the Courant quoted a West Hartford officer who said that, as crime goes, “there’s a little bit of a spree right now,” but the purpose of Strillacci’s letter is not to directly address, or comment on, that “spree.” Rather, the purpose of the letter is to tell citizens of West Hartford what they can do to protect themselves and their neighbors.

I have a lot of respect for Chief Strillacci and the WHPD – of all the places I’ve lived, West Hartford police have been, in my experience, by far the most responsive and reliable police force. They’re good enough to be taken for granted, and that’s pretty high praise.

At the same time, although the letter Strillacci has written positions itself as a response to a growing paranoia (“a few emails being sent to neighbors”), and while the letter takes great care to argue that West Hartford has been experiencing burglaries, not robberies (in other words, no violence involved), the fact that the WHPD is actively calling for the formation of Block Watches seems to at least minimally justify resident paranoia. I’m sure every police department across the US would love to have communities full of block watches, but we can’t ignore the fact that West Hartford has made a public appeal for block watches at a time when burglaries are on the up.

It seems reasonable to assume that these numbers will go back down – WHPD will get the job done (as they always have before) and then, as Tracy Kidder once wrote, it’ll get “too cold for crime.” But after reading this letter, I can’t escape the echoey question it implies – if I should spend more time watching my block, I should also be more worried, right?

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