New Haven announced its partnership with Connecticut against gun violence at a press conference Friday
Nat Kerman, collaborating photographer
The City of New Haven and Connecticut Against Gun Violence announced Friday that it has joined forces to create a new violence prevention office.
Officials unveiled the partnership at a press conference at the New Haven Botanical Garden of Healing, a garden created by local volunteers to commemorate those who have lost their lives to gun violence. The new office aims to reduce the prevalence of gun violence in New Haven by introducing more outreach, education and community service programs to work in conjunction with police departments.
“The overall objective of this office is to help the city provide a coordinated response to gun violence from the prevention side to the monitoring side,” said Mehul Dalal, director of health and social services at the city.
Dalal said the city must identify those at risk and provide the support services and knowledge they need to escape the cycle of violence. He added that the recent rise in gun violence was not a problem unique to the city. Instead, recent data showed that there was “no part of the country that has been untouched” by gun violence, according to Dalal.
The biggest hurdles will be whether the new office has the appropriate and sustainable resources it needs, he added.
“If you mean violence prevention professionals, they usually work on a grant-based cycle, so sometimes they get money, sometimes they don’t, then this program needs to be scaled back and it just isn’t. not a sustainable model for doing violence prevention and we tend to be reactive, ”said Dalal.
Jeremy Stein, executive director of Connecticut Against Gun Violence, told listeners at the press conference that gun violence should be a “top priority” for the city. He added that the new office hoped to seek “community-centered, evidence-based solutions” to reduce violence in New Haven.
Stein said that since the 1970s, more than 700 people have died from gun violence in New Haven. In 2021 alone, there have already been 22 homicides – a 38% increase in firearm homicides from last year and a 175% increase from 2019. According to Stein, there has been 264 shots confirmed in New Haven this year – an average of about one shot per day – and that gun violence has had a disproportionate effect on black and brown communities.
“Fifty-six percent of homicide victims are black, five times the proportion of the population, and they suffer 10 times homicides, 15 times gun assaults and 3 times fatal shootings. [than that] white Americans, ”said Stein. The Center for American Progress reported the figure of 56 percent for Connecticut in November 2019.
Referring to the recent increase in gun violence, New Haven Police Department deputy chief Karl Jacobson said there were a lot of people who “aren’t sure they’ll have a job tomorrow,” and that anxiety can lead to conflict. He said street outreach workers would contact people at risk of armed violence and help them locate services, as sometimes arrests or more violent measures are not effective or possible.
Celeste Robinson-Fulcher, mother and co-founder of the Botanical Garden of Healing, is from West Haven but her daughter died as a result of a New Haven nightclub shooting in 2013.
“What is going on with these kids, why are they picking up a gun, is it the power that it represents, what is it that they lack to the point where they feel like the more weapon is big, the bigger they are? Robinson-Fulcher told the News after the event. “The obstacle is justice. If someone kills someone, why does he have the opportunity to get out of jail? ”
The City of New Haven will partner with Project Longevity, Project Safe Neighborhoods and Connecticut Against Gun Violence to establish the new office.