Gov. Dannel P. Malloy touted his support for municipal aid Monday as a new report found crime in Connecticut at a 40-year low in 2013. Protecting towns from funding cuts has kept cops on the street, he said.
The governor announced the findings of an annual report, called “Crime in Connecticut,” Monday during a state Capitol press conference with law enforcement officials from throughout the state.
The report found that crime had dropped 8.6 percent in Connecticut during 2013. Meanwhile, violent crime dropped by 10.8 percent that same year and property crime has declined by 7.6 percent.
“We have not seen crime numbers this low in more than 40 years and we have a population that is 20 percent larger today than it was 40 years ago,” Malloy said. He said that the drop in violent crime was double the 5.4 percent decline nationally.
The governor credited law enforcement officers in Connecticut for their work. He said some of the policies he championed during his first term helped drive the decline in crime. His budgets, which avoided cuts to municipal aid, have helped maintain the ranks of local police forces, he said.
“We’re making real progress. This was important to me. It’s one of the reasons we decided to balance the budget differently than other places. We didn’t seek to pass on our burden to local communities and now you’re seeing the results of that,” he said.
The report comes a month before what is expected to be a tight election between Malloy and his 2010 Republican rival, Tom Foley. Monday’s press conference was not a campaign event and was organized by Malloy’s office.
But some of the law enforcement officials were openly supportive of Malloy. David Orr, a Norwalk police sergeant and vice president of Connecticut Council of Police, AFSCME Council 15, praised Malloy for helping to maintain staffing, training and resources.
“We greatly appreciate it and we’re hoping that it’s continued and that he’s victorious in the upcoming election,” he said. Orr’s union endorsed Malloy in August.
New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman called Malloy, a former prosecutor, “a friend of law enforcement.”
Others were more reserved in their support. Cromwell Police Chief Anthony Salvatore said he has been working in law enforcement for 40 years and had never seen such a steep decline in crime statistics. He credited “the men and women on the front lines.”
“But I also have to give credit where credit is due with regards to some of the programs that have been implemented by this legislature and ultimately signed off by the governor’s office, or in some cases proposed by the governor’s office,” Salvatore said.
Foley’s campaign did not immediately return requests for comment on this story, but he often cites F.B.I. statistics that show Connecticut is home to some of the most dangerous cities with populations under 200,000. At least three of those cities are in the top 10 most dangerous in the United States.
During the press conference, Malloy was asked whether the sweeping gun control law passed last year in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting affected the violent crime statistics. Malloy said he believed the law had an impact, but it was difficult to quantify.
“I don’t think it’s simply coincidence that we’ve had the least number of homicides in 40 years in the year following putting that legislation in place,” he said. “There were other things as well, but clearly making it hard to buy ammunition, making it harder to buy weapons of mass destruction, I think has contributed to the drop.”
Foley has criticized the bill as inconveniencing law abiding gun owners by taking away their rights.
“Why did you take them away?” Foley asked during a debate last week. “We’re not any safer. This is a bill that has inconvenienced a lot of people.”