Forty new police officers will soon hit the streets of New Haven.
As part of an ongoing effort to increase police presence in all of the city’s neighborhoods, the New Haven Police Department introduced its newest hires to the public during a Monday afternoon press conference at its 1 Union Ave. headquarters. The 40 police officers — all of whom have graduated from the New Haven Police Academy — are completing a three-month field-training program after which they will be deployed to walking beats throughout the city, according to NHPD Chief Dean Esserman.
“My marching orders were clear. Bring violence down in this city and bring community policing back to every neighborhood in this city,” Esserman said. “What you see behind me is a promise this city has kept to the community.”
The extension of the city’s Police Department was first announced at a press conference in January, when Esserman and Mayor John DeStefano Jr. discussed their plans for 2013 following the 50 percent drop in homicides from 2011 to 2012. Two months later, the city has followed through on its promises: By next week, each of New Haven’s 10 policing districts will be assigned four new officers charged with building relations with community members and businesses in their district, Esserman said. He added that he made the decision for all new hires to begin their career with the NHPD on walking beats, in keeping with his commitment to a more community-based policing strategy.
“We are not strangers in New Haven — we belong to the people of New Haven,” Esserman said. “We will be what we promised: a neighborhood-based, community-based department.”
At Monday’s conference, DeStefano praised the work of the Police Department, adding that the city has allocated approximately $2 million to ramp up the number of police officers. DeStefano described the increase in police presence throughout the city as a “major budgetary commitment.”
“Folks have been very clear with me, with the department, with their local legislators, the aldermen, that they want to see police in the neighborhood,” DeStefano said.
The Board of Aldermen’s public safety chairman Brian Wingate and Ward 7 Alderman Doug Hausladen ’04 were also in attendance at the Monday announcement. Both Wingate and Hausladen applauded Esserman’s community policing philosophy.
In addition to the 40 new policemen announced this Monday, 27 cadets will graduate from the police academy later this year, bringing the NHPD head count to a total of 422 officers, Esserman said. Despite budget constraints, he added that the Police Department will be bolstered again through a second recruitment drive in May and June of this year.
According to Esserman, the NHPD will hire a total of 107 new officers by the end of this year.