As violence in Hartford continues to make headlines, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and Democratic challenger Luke Bronin have different styles of approaching the problem. One would hold more public forums, while the other prefers private meetings.
Bronin, who was endorsed last week by the Democratic Town Committee, said he will work with city pastors and local civic organizations to organize a public forum made up of community members seeking to address the uptick in violence.
The approach toward more public engagement comes after the capital city passed a milestone in homicides, reaching 20 so far this year as of this weekend.
Last year the city reported 19 homicides in total, with 8 recorded by mid-August. The previous year 23 were reported, with 13 recorded by mid-August, according to the city’s police reports.
The mid-August homicide rate has only passed into the twenties one other time over the past five years, when it hit 21 in August of 2011.
“It’s long past time that we had a meaningful conversation with residents and not just lip service in an election year,” Bronin said. “At this point, we’re done calling for meetings. If Segarra won’t do it, the people of Hartford will.”
While Bronin wants to take a public approach to the violence, Segarra is content putting his energy into hosting private meetings — something he believes “promotes earnest conversation” by means of their confidentiality.
“While public forums are useful for members of the public to voice their concerns, not all meetings need to necessarily be open to the public,” Segarra said. “When there is sensitive and private information at hand, or developing details in certain cases, the most responsible action I can take is to host a private meeting.”
Segarra challenged Bronin’s comments on his lack of action, saying that he believes to be taking all the necessary steps when it comes to investigating the root behind the city’s rise in violent crime.
And while he prefers private meetings, Segarra did attend a roundtable discussion with Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and leaders from the North End last week.
At that meeting, Segarra said he believed efforts to reduce both violence and the school-to-prison pipeline need to focus partly on getting the city’s youth graduated and involved in the police force.
But it’s an election year so no proposal is without its critics.
“All signs point to one thing – that Pedro Segarra is treating this crisis like a public relations problem, not a public safety problem,” Bronin said. “He has no plan. He should be working to bring this city together.”
Malloy, who attested to the productivity of last Wednesday’s roundtable, said he supported Bronin’s decision to go through with a public meeting.
“That’s what we need, we need cooperation in the community if we’re going to have some success in this,” Malloy said Tuesday. ”I think that every time we remind the community that our policing is only as good as the cooperation we get from our community is a good thing, and I think people are stepping forward.”
Malloy has not made an endorsement yet in the Hartford mayoral contest.
Bronin’s campaign said they plan to hold a public forum on the violence soon, but as of Thursday had not set a date.