New Haven fights crime with social welfare

According to reports, New Haven is fighting crime with social welfare and gaining success as well. ‘Reduce violence in the city and improve relations with the community,’ is a very effective slogan by Dean Esserman’ who took the helm of the New Haven Police Department in November 2011. The number of homicides in the city reached 34, which was a big number in the past 20 years. But with the efforts of the police department, they reduced by 50 percent.

Mayor of the city, John DeStefano Jr. and other city officials have largely attributed the police department’s switch to a model of community policing. They believe that moving officers away from their desks and putting them on walking patrols throughout the city is a great idea.

But still, debate is going on discussing that larger structural issues remain key drivers responsible for the city’s crime rate and must be addressed in conjunction with community policing to eradicate the sources of crime.

It is said that the fundamental problems are situated in the economic and social fabric of the city. New Haven is considered as the most socially fragmented city in the country. Moreover, it has a neighborhood like Fair Haven, West River and Newhallville. They are home of almost 85 percent homicides over the last eight years.

Highest recidivism rate is also associated with New Haven in the nation. In the last few years, 70 percent of New Haven violent crimes involve ex-offenders. That is why there is a need to find strategies to address those returning to the city post-incarceration.

A partnership based work was started between city officials, NHPD and local organizations on a series of social assistance programs to reintegrate ex-offenders. This also includes assisting disadvantaged strata of the population which include youth and low-income families. Work on welfare programs and social services are looked over by Elm City officials to bring down violence and crime in the city. This includes prison re-entry initiatives to large public housing transformations.

It is expected that the efforts made by New Haven city officials and local activists will supplement policing efforts with social and economic programs. This would discourage youth from committing crimes, integrating ex-offenders back into civil life and redeveloping crime-ridden neighborhoods.

“We have a responsibility to one another. We have a responsibility to our community,” Mayor DeStefano said.

“New Haven has a strong tradition of welfare and social assistance — the city was, and is, a national leader in redeveloping programs and human services programs,” said William Ginsberg, president of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. He distributed over $21 million in grants last year to hundreds of city nonprofits. “This is my general philosophy: Whatever we can do — not only with social assistance, but also with education and professional training — it all contributes to people’s individual success in life and to a more stable and prosperous society.”

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