Hartford’s drug offenses have plummeted 74% since Governor Malloy took office, but since 2013 the rate of decrease has lowered to a steady 26%. Hartford police data points to progress, but co-occurring state initiatives may also play a role.
Since Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy’s appointment in January 2011, Hartford’s crime rates have been decreasing as a result of the Governor’s dedication to lowering incarceration in state prisons. Malloy’s personal philosophy aims to let more people out of jail and prevent less from being incarcerated, Former Police Chief James Foley said in a September Press Conference with Wesleyan students.
Though drug offenses have decreased over Malloy’s time in office, this statistical drop correlates with the police department’s recent plan to stop arresting low-level drug offenders and focus on the dealers themselves. While drug offense data reports a 37% drop, Hartford’s police department has also chosen to ignore a number of offenders in order to focus on more dangerous crimes.
Instead of arresting non-violent drug users, Hartford has employed an Alternative to Arrest Program that aids these offenders in ending addictions. “Arresting people is never going to solve addiction. We can arrest someone 100 times and it not only will not help them, it has been showed that it hurts them [in their recovery progress],” Foley said. This state initiative accounts for Hartford’s lowest drug offense count since 2005, with only 384 arrests.
Malloy has also closed some state facilities housing offenders in recent years, and did so without alerting the police department. The CJTS released fewer than 50 residents from the center in July of this year as a result of an 85% drop in incarcerated minors since 2009. “Gang violence spiked when Governor Malloy closed the Connecticut Judicial Training School in 2017, [the police] didn’t have any heads-up on that, which lead to increase in shootings,” said Foley. Though a ShotSpotter gunshot detection system implemented in March 2016 increased the efficiency of gunshot reports in Hartford, the 69% increase from 2015 to 2017 may also align with recently released drug offenders from state facilities and more lax attention to drug offenses by the police department.
While statistics show a decreasing drug-offense rate in Hartford and more prisons close, residents and police ask for a back-up plan to prevent offenders’ re-entry into crime and drug use. Police Chief Foley applauds Malloy’s dedication to leniency on low-level drug arrests, but said “[The state] needs to have jobs, housing, and education for these offenders when they are let out so they do not go back out and re-commit.”
Walsh is a member of the class of 2019.