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Archive for the ‘Crime’ Category

Not Much Good News from New Park Avenue This Thanksgiving

Posted by whforums on November 27, 2008

So, I’ll follow this with a happier post, but yesterday didn’t exactly bring a lot of good news from the New Park Avenue area.

First, there was this story about a “home invasion” (I’m really not comfortable with this phrase) over on Fenwood. The police say it was “targeted” (I guess there are versions of “targeted,” but it seems to me like such a thing is always to some degree targeted), and the “invaders” came armed and with zip-ties to tie up anyone inside. Scary stuff, and a burning reminder to keep your doors locked, even in “West Hartford.”

Then, this report about a woman trying to kidnap her own children during a supervised visit.

I’ve written often before about this idea of “two West Hartfords,” or about how West Hartford is some sort of blend between the reputation it has, its thriving downtown, and a lot of deep poverty. I’m going to seek some numbers on West Hartford crime by street/district and see what that shows us. I’m also wondering if it would be beneficial to elect Town Council by town district, to provide more real and local voice to all of our residents …

All idle thought for future posts, which you’re lucky (or bored!) enough to read.

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Posted in Crime, Media, West Hartford, West Hartford Center, West Hartford Town Council, WHPD | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

This Is Why We Don’t Pay The WHPD Enough …

Posted by whforums on November 14, 2008

We’re tempted to dismiss them as random acts of violence, but the stuff that’s been keeping the WHPD busy this week is all decidedly motivated, even if we don’t necessarily understand the motivations.

First there was the brutal beating (baseball bat + hatchet) of a West Hartford homeless man. You can read about the entire strange story here (though I’d guess you pretty much know the story already). What strikes me is how easy it is to call this a “random” (though motivated) act of violence to attempt to argue to ourselves that we are not capable of doing exactly what the accused is, well, accused of doing. Which is in no way to draw sympathy away from the victim (where it belongs), but is simply to bring a note of introspection to what otherwise may seem humanly impossible in our “own skin.”

WHPD also got summoned to East Hampton this week to deal with a police standoff issue. Essentially, East Hampton police summoned Middletown police who in turn summoned West Hartford police. Why? Because we have an armored personnel carrier (did you know we had an armored personnel carrier? I’m not sure if that makes me feel more or less secure). In any case, the story ends terribly, but you can read it here if you’d like.

Mercy demands justice, justice demands mercy, etc. ….

Posted in Crime, West Hartford, WHPD | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

So, These Oakwood Avenue Shootings

Posted by whforums on November 1, 2008

I’d be curious to hear the general town reaction to the October 19th shootings at the UAW Hall on Oakwood. You know, the “baby shower shootings” (as if a shooting on the periphery of a baby shower is worse than a shooting anywhere else).

As I read through the coverage, it seemed pretty obvious that there was a (non-organized, unconscious) desire to make the forceful, implicit argument that the violence came to West Hartford but didn’t start here — that the violence had its origin in some other town where these sorts of things happen. And at the same time, I found myself wondering, had this shooting happened a half mile down the road — in Hartford rather than in West Hartford, would it have received the same media attention? Or would it just be another “Hartford shooting?”

So let me get you started with my opinion — which you can probably smell 3 websites away. The sources of this violence are regional, folks, and it’s as much West Hartford’s problem as anyone else’s. And you know what? My guess is that, if we sorted through the news stories from 2008, we’d find a significant percentage of arrested “Hartford Residents” with West Hartford roots.

Here’s the problem. If we continue to dismiss regional violence as a non-regional problem, even if we do so implicitly — if we continue to dismiss this as a problem we can safely appropriate to a city’s limits — then we ignore that its scope, impact and origin are decidedly regional, and our dismissals only serve to perpetuate the violence and its myths. Until our thinking, even in these “belt-tightening” times, is a regional thinking, it’s going to be too easy to close our rental halls (and I don’t blame the UAW for doing that), put our fingers in our ears, and pretend that our greatest problems are our budgets and our development projects — rather than the economic segregation West Hartford (and when I write West Hartford, you better believe I’m writing “You and I”) both enacts and enables.

Posted in Crime, Hartford, Media, Regionalism, Uncategorized, West Hartford | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

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?

Posted in Crime, West Hartford, WHPD | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »