Waterbury Police try to build trust, better relationships with kids

WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) —Waterbury Police officers are using some new allies in their fight to improve relations with young people throughout the city.

Those new allies are horses with the department’s Mounted Patrol Unit. On Wednesday, some officers brought them to the Yeshiva Ktana Jewish School.

Students got to pet the horses, get an up close look at them, and ask questions about them to two officers. Waterbury’s Deputy Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo says the horses provide an excellent bonding opportunity and a chance for the kids to interact with police in a more personal way.

Related Content: Waterbury Citizens Patrol: residents helping to keep the city safe

“This is very important to us at the Waterbury Police Department,” said Deputy Chief Spagnolo. “It’s building relationships and ties within our community and opens and avenues for us to be able to communicate and build trust.”

And that could be very beneficial when it comes to trying to fight crime in the city.

The Waterbury PD faces the same problem that many police departments face across the country — a number of people in some communities do not trust the police and have a negative perception of them.

“To be honest, there’s a lot of people that — we don’t get along with them,” said Waterbury resident Kayden Santiago.

“It’s corrupted out here and everybody knows that,” said Jose Vazquez, of Waterbury.

Deputy Chief Spagnolo calls sentiments like those disheartening. It’s one of the reasons Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary green-lighted $20,000 for three fully-outfitted horses. He saw it as a way to help bring the police and the community together. If the students at Yeshiva Ktana are excellent indicators, it was a good move. After their visits with the horses, several students got a new appreciation of officers.

“They’re not people who just want to give out tickets and things like that but they’re really people who are doing their best to protect us,” one student said.

“We know we’ll always be protected by the police of Waterbury,” said 13 year-old Akiva Elefant.

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