WATCH this important discussion: https://youtu.be/loTFxRITGuo
Last week the close-knit community of Southport was alarmed and affected by a multi-town “Shoreline Crime Spree”. Teenagers wielding plastic prop weapons robbed a local school’s staff as they were walking from their parked cars into work. This incident created a heightened sense of unease within the village and the surrounding communities.
Sen. Tony Hwang, who represents Fairfield, Westport, Weston, Easton and Sandy Hook/Newtown in the CT General Assembly felt it was critical to convene a community conversation to hear from the public and was joined by a panelist of Fairfield police, local RTM and bipartisan state legislators that was held at Pequot Library on Sat, Nov 13th.
Sen. Hwang moderated and emphasized the objective of the community conversation, “The goals of the event were for law enforcement authorities to inform and directly update residents on the criminal event and offer follow up actions by police and residents to ensure community safety. More importantly, it was an opportunity for residents to voice their personal concerns, experiences and ask questions of the assembled panelists, with the ultimate goal of opening up lines of communication among neighbors, government and law enforcement toward crime prevention. I was so impressed and encouraged that this potentially emotional community conversation was so positively constructive, given the wide ranging feedback from differing and erstwhile perspectives, I am hopeful that it was valued and respected.”
As a result of the community feedback and exchange of ideas, action items will be considered:
- Implement and review of notification procedures that will include neighboring schools, business and residents
- Police will provide crime prevention/awareness and help establish neighborhood watch teams. It takes a village and everyone can help.
- Reassure residents that every effort and diligence by law enforcement to ensure the safety of everyone.
- Local RTM & State legislators will seek solutions toward addressing not only crime and punishment but the entire ecosystem leading to criminal action.
Fairfield Chief of Police Robert Kalamaras shared, “Whenever one of our communities falls victim to a major crime, we understand and share the feelings of concern and unrest within that community. It is of tremendous value to us as a police department to be able to come together as we did at the Pequot Library. These important discussions enable the community members and the police department to learn from each other and generate ideas together. We welcome and encourage these community meetings as the feedback helps us to adapt and evolve to meet the changing needs of the community and to more effectively combat the local trends in crime.”
State Representative Jennifer Leeper (D-132) added, “The event that took place outside Southport School two weeks ago was troubling. Anytime a crime occurs, particularly so close to home, it makes us feel unsettled and unsafe. I’m grateful no one was injured and that law enforcement was able to catch and detain the individual. Today’s forum was a great opportunity to hear directly from community members about how protocols can be improved going forward. We also heard the community’s commitment to investing in the critical upstream work that needs to be done to prevent crime from happening. I am committed to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to get that done.”
Member of Fairfield’s Representative Town Meeting (RTM) Frank Petise (District 10) participated, “I really enjoyed being part of the Public Safety Conversation hosted by Sen. Tony Hwang at the Pequot Library last weekend. The event was attended by many from both Southport/District 10 as well as other districts in Fairfield. Not only was it beneficial for myself to hear directly from our constituents but I think it was extremely important that the public had the opportunity to voice their concerns about crime and safety directly to the Police Department. I look forward to the continued effort to work with other elected officials and the Police Department to address public safety concerns in our town.”
Peter Britton, who also represents District 10 in Fairifeld’s RTM added, “Excellent event hosted by State Senator Tony Hwang at Pequot Library to discuss local public safety and specifically the increase in crime in the Southport district. Event was very well attended, the audience was extremely engaged and it was a terrific opportunity for the local community to express their concerns. As an elected official, it is critical we listen to our constituents and public safety is right up at the top of the list of issues they have today. This is a totally nonpartisan issue – everyone has to work together with our local police dept to tackle crime.”
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