New Haven saw an uptick in violent crime in 2019, according to year-end statistics.
Police Chief Tony Reyes said violent crime is up, particularly shooting incidents, but he stressed that New Haven remains a safe city. Officers broke down the numbers and described the challenges and strategies by neighborhood during a recent meeting at police headquarters. Statistics showed 74 nonfatal shooting victims as of Dec. 15 -- the highest number since 2012.
Reyes attributes many of those shootings to gang members being released from prison.
“High-profile individuals that had been in the community in the past that were really driving the crime,” Reyes said, “and driving the crime to the extent that they were either being victimized because of their role in certain beefs and in certain groups and gangs within the city, or they were actually perpetuating it by actually doing the shootings themselves.”
Police addressed specific incidents this year, including a recent shooting outside a Catholic elementary school that sent a stray bullet into a pre-K classroom. Over the course of the year, an 8-year-old and a 9-year-old were shot, there were 12 double shootings, and a police officer was shot. Reyes acknowledged the perception among residents that the city is unsafe, which means the department needs to do more.
Reyes said in 2020 the department plans to beef up its criminal intelligence unit, increase community outreach, and maximize resources through its partnerships with other agencies, like the FBI and the DEA. And the department wants to focus on “quality-of-life crimes.”
Reyes said one of his main goals is to arrest the person who shot and injured Capt. Anthony Duff, indicating some action in the case is expected soon.