We need to feel safe in our city for New Haven to thrive. When our city is safe, we can transform our possibilities. A safe city helps children learn and grow without fear. A safe city garners more business investment, innovation, and opportunity for all of its residents. And a safe city can grow and thrive sustainably. When we imagine a safe city, it has to be more than just about crime and policing. It’s ensuring economic opportunity for our residents, it’s guaranteeing safe streets, it’s reducing environmental risks, and it’s strengthening emergency response. For all of us.
Quite simply, New Haven doesn’t feel safe right now. I hear it from people in our city every day--the violence in our community makes people feel scared for their families and for themselves. Last year, we had the most murders in our city since 2013 and the most shootings since 2012. This year, it’s already much worse. In the wake of the George Floyd protests last summer, the Mayor cut $2 million from the police budget, but used that money to fill a budget hole rather than investing in our community, leaving the community feeling abandoned and police feeling unsupported. Our city will not feel safe without reinvestment in our communities and strong management of the police department. Meanwhile, pedestrian deaths are spiking, the Mayor is trying to privatize emergency response services, and New Haven is one of the most dangerous cities in the country for people with asthma. While it’s good that the Mayor is finally heeding the advice of experts and stakeholders by increasing investment in violence interruption work, he’s demonstrated a lack of understanding and ability to lead around issues of community safety. Our city’s future depends on real solutions and real leadership, rooted in a fundamental understanding of the problem and the solutions.
Invest in Evidence-Based Violence Reduction
Refocus the Police Department
Office for Neighborhood Safety
Establish the civilian Office for Neighborhood Safety. We ask our police to do too much. They need to be first to the scene for violent crimes, but they also have to respond to calls of vehicle break-ins, parking violations, noise complaints, welfare checks, vandalism, traffic stops, and so much more. The mass criminalization of behavior has created an impossible situation for both the police and the community. I will reassign traffic, civil matters, and civil enforcement to non-sworn, non-armed public safety officers, and house them in a new Office of Neighborhood Safety. This new office will be run out of satellite offices in our police substations across the city. The Office of Neighborhood Safety will work closely with police to monitor risks, but will also work with violence interrupters, the Board of Education, job readiness programs, and other community partners to coordinate and align all non-criminal community safety work. The Office for Neighborhood Safety will also coordinate non-police responders to police-involved complaints, including mental health and social work caseworkers responding along with police.
Commit to Transit and Transportation Safety
Launch a Vision Zero Task Force. Eleven pedestrians and bicyclists were killed by cars in 2020 in New Haven, and we’ve already had at least five this year. The number of pedestrian and bicyclist deaths we experience every year is simply unacceptable. New Haven has been lucky to have leadership at the statewide level from Representative Lemar and others taking on this issue, and our Transportation, Traffic & Parking Department has begun to work through Complete Streets. However, mayoral leadership is required to set goals and manage the city to meet them. It’s not enough to continue to build bike lanes when the funding becomes available. I will push for a local Vision Zero task force to complement the new statewide Vision Zero task force, to be made up of stakeholders, residents, and city officials, who will be responsible for developing a public-facing, data-driven Safe Streets Action Plan with a concrete time-table to reach zero pedestrian or bicyclist deaths in our city.
Increase Support for the Fire Department
Expand our Public Health Vision