New Haven deals with understaffed police force

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — As the weather heats up so does the violence in big cities like New Haven.

And the chief of police says the department needs more officers to patrol the streets.

There are about 380 officers on the force right now — nearly 100 short of the staffing level they should be at.

There are 87 vacant positions and about a dozen more are expected by the end of this month.

PDF: What it takes to become a New Haven police officer

“Eighty-seven vacancies in the department and unfortunately by the end of this month we are probably going to have another 10 to 14 more,” said 5th Ward Alderman Jorge Perez.

In an effort to keep crime down, officers on staff will have to work overtime this summer – at an estimated cost to the city of $500,000.

But people in New Haven say it will also cost the city in other ways; the absence of police could mean dangerous streets.

“The crime that does happen like the shootings, it comes from people across town,” says Denise Bryant.

People in one New Haven neighborhood say crime is brought in by outsiders. They say the scene of children playing along West Street is a common sight here but police presence can save lives.

Just blocks from where the children played, 45-year-old Joseph Mettelus was shot in the chest Wednesday evening. He remains in critical condition.

Police say they have 25 new recruits in police academy but they don’t graduate until the fall. But, once again, it’s during the summer when a lot of crime happens.

“I mean, police are supposed to keep us safe,” said a local woman. “If we have 100 less people to keep us safe, then that falls on us.”

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