NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — In a city known for community policing strategies, one of its most distressed neighborhoods has no choice but to become more familiar by the day with their new, and far from shy district commander.
“What’s up boy! What you doing?” Sgt. Shafiq Abdussabur yelled out of his police cruiser window to a child he once mentored.
Sgt. Abdussabur helps bring life to New Haven’s Newhallville. He calls it a close-knit neighborhood where hand waves are mandatory.
“This is the ‘you gotta wave’ community,” Sgt. Abdussabur said. “People kind of think Newhallville is dangerous, or can’t drive through here. No! Wave at people! They’ll wave back, smile back. That’s the relationship.”
The ties that bind were forged also by neighbors, who look out for one another’s property and have become familiar with beat cops.
“Every time I give gatherings, cookouts in my yard, I invite them to get a plate of food,” said Kenneth Ollison, who has lived on Star Street for years.
Sean Reilly moved to the neighborhood earlier this year, right around the corner from the Newhallville substation.
“The police have a good rapport with the people here,” Reilly said. “They drive down the street, beep at people and wave at them. Not much animosity toward police.”
With tensions running extremely high over the past week between police and minority residents, he said those casual interactions help cool the temperature.
“They’re a bunch of great guys,” Reilly said. “I know if I have a problem they’re right around the corner.”
But with police leaders like Sgt. Abdussabur, a neighborhood connection is inevitable.
“You might have to get out of your car at some point. Give somebody a hug, show them some love. You got to give out your number,” Sgt. Abdussabur said.