After a shootout downtownearly Sunday morning left two men injured and one gunman at large, city officials said Tuesday that they are toughening up on crime in the area.
Standing on Crown Street near the site of the College Street shooting, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. and New Haven Police Department Chief Frank Limon announced at a press conference that they are taking what DeStefano called “preventative measures” to put a stop to future violence.
“I think, frankly, I was too tolerant of some of the behaviors we’ve seen on the street,” DeStefano said. In particular, he said, public drinking, as well assome local clubs’ promotions, such as $1 pitcher nights, have gotten out of hand.
In addition to increasing police presence in the Crown Street area, city officials pledged toincreasethe amount oflighting in the surrounding area’s streets, parking lots and garages, DeStefano said.
Officials from the fire marshal’s office, health department andstate liquor commission will now join the NHPD on patrol in the Crown Street areato crack down on fire, health and liquor violations at downtown clubs and bars, DeStefano said.
The mayor also announced plans Tuesday to work with the state legislature —including Reps. Juan Candelaria and Gary Holder-Winfield, who were at the event Tuesday —to classify the Crown Street area as an official entertainment district. Theclassification would allow the city to charge club operators for the additional officers it needs to station near their establishments to prevent violence there.
“This community doesn’t want to accept the behavior of a few individuals that put the rest of people at risk,” Destefano said.
In August, DeStefano proposed creating a special police detail, which would have about 10 officers and one sergeant, to patrol New Haven’s downtown nightlife scene. The detail was expected to cost $500,000, about $300,000 of which would have been charged to club owners. The proposal came in response to increased violence in the downtown area, where two men have been murdered in the last two years. Now the proposal is no longer on the table because the mayor wants to mandate that club owners share the cost of the increased security, City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said.
The mayor’s previous proposal asked downtown nightlife operators to contribute voluntarily to a fund that would have created the bar detail.
“We have attempted to be methodical and collaborative in the past, but we recognize it’s not the strategy we need to apply moving forward,” Limon said Tuesday.
Frank Patrick, manager of Crown Street eatery and club BAR, for one, said after Tuesday’s press conference that he supports the entertainment district and contributing to the police detail.
Board of Aldermen President Carl Goldfield, who was not at the conference, said even though he supports requiring bar owners to pay for law enforcement, he thinks the more severe problem is that the culture of downtown bars seems to foster violence.
If DeStefano’s August proposal had gone into effect, it would have cost BAR more than $22,000 annually, Patrick said.