NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Changes could be coming to the New Haven police department. Officers who patrol the Elm City’s streets could be getting cell phones.
The Mayor of New Haven wants to put cellphones into the hands of officers. Right now a majority of officers use their personal phones out on the job and this would change that. The mayor says it should be the responsibility of the city to provide those to our police officers.
Mayor Toni Harp says officers on the walking beat get to know residents and form a relationship with them, and when something happens locals want to get in touch directly with those officers. She says it’s all about building trust with the community.
The mayor says one officer she knows gave out his personal cell number to a business owner in the community and when his store was about to get robbed, he dialed the officer and the officer was right there.
Right now the city is working with the board of aldermen and command staff at the police department to implement the program. The mayor tells News 8 it will enhance their ability to keep people safe and it’s just another tool in the tool kit that enhances the effectiveness of our police. She also talks about community policing and building the connection with officers and locals.
“Especially when something happens if people can call that number to the police officer they know and trust, I’m thinking that we will hear more from people in the community about what is happening there. If you don’t have the ability to do that then it takes time and there are a lot of things that interfere with you actually making that report. So I think this makes one the relationship better between community and police, and it makes our officers that much more efficient with real time information,” said Harp.
The mayor says there are plenty of people who worked for the city, have city cell phones, and this would just be extending it. She doesn’t know how much it will cost yet, but thinks the city can accommodate with the current budget.
How long could it take for police officers to get city cell phones? The mayor says she is waiting for the approval and resources as soon as it gets approved, it will take a month or two from there. She would like to see it happen as soon as possible.
The mayor says it’s not to replace 911 and says people should call 911 first and then call the officers who you know.