Board learns online policing platform

New Haven residents can now sign up for their neighborhood watches online.

At the Board of Aldermen meeting Monday night, procedural re-dos split time with somber moments of silence, and afterward, aldermen got a how-to guide to a free online neighborhood watch for the New Haven area, New Haven-based SeeClickFix.com.

“SeeClickFix.com is a map-based Web site to report non-emergency issues,” said Ben Berkowitz, one of its founders.

New Haven residents can use the site to post “issues” — such as graffiti or a broken stop light — onto an online map, where they can then be seen by other citizens, including government officials. Local organizations like the Town Green Special Services District, the Connecticut Department of Transportation, the Livable City Initiative and the New Haven Police Department are watching the site for problems that they can fix, he said.

“SeeClickFix allows anyone to click and report an issue,” Berkowitz said.

He and Jeff Blasius, another founder, gave a how-to lesson for their Web site after the board meeting.

“It’s not just about reporting — it’s about getting things fixed,” Berkowitz said. “We’re here because we want more aldermen to get on board.”

The site has grown rapidly since its launch in March and has more than 1,000 posts in New Haven, Berkowitz said, with hundreds of unique visitors per day from the New Haven area. More than 600 people have signed up with their e-mail addresses so far, Blasius said.

Personalized watch areas allow users to receive specific e-mail updates if an issue is posted in their neighborhood, he said, and users can also post when a problem has been fixed.

“It holds people accountable, so you can see if the issue gets resolved,” Blasius said.

Berkowitz and Blasius worked with Ward 9 Alderman Roland Lemar to test the site in its first months. The NHPD hopes the site will prompt more anonymous reporting of crime, Berkowitz said.

During the Board of Aldermen meeting itself, meanwhile, it was deja vu all over again.

The aldermen voted to revert Grannis Street to public property and to honor former NHPD Sgt. Dario S. Aponte — who passed away late Tuesday night while responding to a 911 call — with a moment of silence.

But then Ward 25 Alderwoman Ina Silverman ’80 EPH ’83 sparked a brief rules kerfuffle when she asked whether a vote had actually been taken on the Grannis Street proposal. It had, Board of Aldermen President and Ward 29 Alderman Carl Goldfield said, but the board could do it again.

Other members interrupted, saying that the meeting had already been adjourned and, therefore, no more votes could be taken.

But they were wrong, too.

So the aldermen voted to abolish Grannis Street for a second time. The motion passed unanimously.

“Like a belt and suspenders,” Goldfield said.

“Wake up, Ina,” Ward 21 Alderwoman Katrina Jones yelled jokingly.

Then the aldermen had another re-do. Ward 11 Alderman Robert Lee, who had walked in late, called for a moment of silence for Sgt. Aponte.

“We already did that,” several other aldermen said.

“Well, I wasn’t here,” Lee replied.

The aldermen and those seated in the gallery stood for another moment of silence.

The aldermen also paid tribute to Officer Diane Gonzalez, who is in Yale-New Haven Hospital after Friday’s crash with Aponte, and wished her a full recovery.

Goldfield announced a briefing on New Haven’s 10th square next Tuesday, Sept. 23, at 5:15 p.m.

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