Hartford Tries to Prevent Crime By Focusing on People, Not Guns

AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast

Hartford, Connecticut isn't exactly rural Texas or Missouri when it comes to guns. Folks in Hartford tend to favor gun control and all that entails.

Yet despite Connecticut's strict gun control laws, folks in Hartford are less than thrilled with the number of shootings that happen in their community. Granted, we can all agree that the only acceptable number of shootings is zero, even if "acceptable" and "realistic" aren't exactly neighbors.

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So it shouldn't be surprising that Hartford is trying to do something about it. What's interesting is what they seem to not be doing.

Hartford’s young men have been dying from and incarcerated for gun violence for decades, despite tireless advocacy and policing. The city’s new mayor plans to focus on identifying possible offenders long before they commit a crime to stem the violence.

Mayor Arunan Arulampalam announced Monday the creation of a new office aimed at fostering communication and collaboration between multiple nonprofit agencies, the city, and the public. The mayor said the creation of a violence prevention office was one of his major priorities in his first 100 days.

Chavon Campbell, who was appointed to head the new Office of Crime Prevention last week, has worked in compliance and data management for Hartford Communities that Care, as a data analyst for Trinity Health of New England and as a minister at the Greater Hartford Church of Christ.

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The Office of Violence Prevention will seek to be a bridge between the city and multiple stakeholders, including nonprofits like COMPASS Youth Collaborative, ROCA Hartford, and Hartford Communities that Care. The hope is that through sharing data and metrics, the city can piece together the best strategies to help prevent crime and guide policy decisions.

“As we talk about public safety, so often the conversation becomes synonymous with police,” Arulampalam said. “But our police can’t solve every problem in the community, we put so much into that bucket already. Our police are such an important and invaluable tool in the response to public safety, but they can’t be the entire toolbox.”

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This is interesting to me because of the words you don't find, namely "gun control."

What we have here is an effort to curtail violence by addressing the truly unifying thing in all violent crime: Violent people.

See, people make a lot of noise about the gun being the only common factor in gun violence, but it's not. People are a common factor as well, and they're the common factor in all other forms of violent crime as well. Focusing attention there just makes sense because then you don't need to worry about anything else.

Guns don't hurt people on their own. Neither do knives, bats, hammers, or cars. They need a violent person to use them violently.

Hartford is focusing on people in an effort to keep them from straying from the straight and narrow and becoming violent people. This is something we should all applaud because doing nothing will never be a viable option, but gun control is the completely wrong option.

Granted, the mayor isn't above talking smack about people who try to do what his police department has been unable to do--clearly, he doesn't understand the role firearms can play in preventing violence--but on this, he didn't completely ignore reality.

I, for one, wish them well and hope to see Hartford enjoy great success with this initiative.

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If only every variation of "Office of Crime Prevention" would approach it the same way rather than trying to create anti-gun laws that will likely fall apart under judicial scrutiny but not before making life difficult for law-abiding citizens.

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