On Monday night, the New Haven Board of Alders kicked off its biweekly meeting by approving a grant of up to $250,000 for increased police overtime and, later, appointed several city residents to the Affordable Housing Commission.
The grant would come from the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management and is intended for “overtime for COVID-19 mitigation and response efforts.” Ward 11 Alder Gerald Antunes, who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said the grant will also be directed toward violent crime reduction in the Elm City. The item passed with unanimous consent from the board, and Antunes noted that the Public Safety Committee would be meeting on Tuesday to further discuss the item.
“This grant is going to help our police, and I urge all of my fellow colleagues to support it,” Antunes said at the meeting.
According to Antunes, part of the grant money would also go directly to the New Haven Police Department’s Project Longevity, an initiative intended to reduce gun violence in the city through community outreach efforts. Project Longevity began as an effort spearheaded by the U.S. Attorney’s Office under President Barack Obama, and since then, Connecticut cities such as New Haven and Bridgeport have received funding for the project through the state.
Antunes did not specify at the meeting how the grant will be incorporated into the project. But historically, the program has allowed NHPD to identify individuals most involved in gun violence and give them a choice between long prison sentences and help from community-based services.
The grant marks the second increase in police overtime over the last two months. In early October, the board approved a $60,000 grant for police overtime to conduct a targeted distracted driving initiative and increase the police presence at traffic checkpoints. These overtime increases come amid monthslong protests across the country and in New Haven to defund police departments after the deaths of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement officers.
The board also approved the appointments of several New Haven residents to the Affordable Housing Commission. The appointments included Rebecca Corbett, a senior administrative assistant for dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine, Ebony McClease, a special education teacher, and Claudette Kidd, a community activist who has experienced housing insecurity, as reported by the New Haven Independent.
Ward 13 Alder Rosa Santana, chair of the Aldermanic Affairs Committee, spoke on behalf of the appointees.
As the city of New Haven rapidly nears 4,000 total positive cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began in March, Ward 23 Alder Tyisha Walker-Myers closed out the meeting with a word of warning for the New Haven community. She said that since the city has been hit hard in recent weeks, it is vital for all residents to continue to follow city health guidelines, including wearing a mask and social-distancing.
Especially with the approaching holidays, she said, people need to be prioritizing public safety above all else.
“I’m a family person,” Walker-Myers said. “And I know people really want to spend the holidays with their families because it’s been a real rough 2020. But we really need to continue to stay safe. It’s really, really important.”
The next New Haven Board of Alders meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Dec. 7.
Thomas Birmingham | firstname.lastname@example.org