Crime in Connecticut fell substantially last year, Gov. Dannel Malloy and law enforcement representatives announced Monday.
This year’s “Crime in Connecticut” report revealed a drop in the crime rate of 8.6 percent in 2013 — bringing the state’s number of reported violent and property crimes down to its lowest level since 1967. New Haven witnessed a similar trend, with violent and property crimes down 9 percent.
The announcement comes in the midst of a tight gubernatorial election. And the significant drop in crime bode well for Malloy, said University of Connecticut political science professor Ronald Schurin.
“It’s always a good thing when governors can point to a reduction in crime,” Schurin said. “[Crime is] not as much of an issue nationally as it was in the 1960s, but it’s certainly an issue here in Connecticut.”
The release of the data should help Malloy build support and contrast himself to Republican candidate Tom Foley, who has recently mapped out an urban agenda focusing on Bridgeport, Hartford and New Haven, Schurin said. He added that Malloy can also use the data to position himself as a strong advocate for gun control. In the nearly two years since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Malloy has become one of the most vociferous advocates of gun control in the country.
According to the report, Connecticut’s violent crime decreased by 10.8 percent, which is double the national decline in violent crime. The state’s violent crime rate is also below the national average, which stands at 368 per 100,000 people. Meanwhile, Connecticut’s average is 253 per 100,000.
A series of programs in Connecticut also accounts for the decreasing crime rate, said Bridgeport Police Department Chief Joseph Gaudett in a press release from the governor’s office. Gaudett pointed to Project Longevity as one of the initiatives that changes criminal behavior across the state. Project Longevity aims to reduce crime in Bridgeport, New Haven and Hartford by targeting gangs and other violent groups.
According to Bridgeport program director Charles Grady, Project Longevity has been very successful in reducing group and gang related violence in its three target cities.
“Governor Malloy and David Fein are responsible for bringing Project Longevity to all three cities,” Grady said. “To that end, it is their baby, and it is working.”
Grady also attributed the decreasing crime rates to increased communication between the police departments and state probation, adding that using research to target individuals decreases gang and group violence, leading to a “ripple effect” that decreases crime across the city.
Still, New Haven remains Connecticut’s most dangerous city, according to a report by NeighborhoodScout — a data analysis company that compared 2012 FBI data on reported violent crimes in cities across the country.
Schurin said that while the results of the crime report will probably not have a significant effect on the New Haven vote in this November’s election, it provides a useful talking point for the governor.
New Haven has seen a steady downward trend in crime rate for years, said Laurence Grotheer, director of communications for the New Haven mayor’s office. The dropping crime rate also coincides with the introduction of community-based policing and New Haven Police Department Chief Dean Esserman’s tenure, he added.
“[The police] are assigned to a district, and then they stay in that district,” Grotheer said of the community-based policing program. “Familiarity grows and with familiarity comes reliance and trust.”
Malloy served as Stamford’s mayor for 14 years before being elected governor in November 2010.