The following press release was signed by Mayor Mark Kaczynski, Chief of Police Matthew McNally, Police Commission Chairman Steven Wilson and state representative Donna Veach.
We are aware of the spiking crime wave of car break-ins and thefts that are occurring here in Berlin and across the state. We understand that this rising wave of crime is seriously affecting the citizens in our community. Residents are anxious that they may be victimized next.
To our community, we hear you and are responding to your concerns.
We can tell you that during the past few weeks, your calls for suspicious activities and complaints are being addressed to the best of our ability.
Your complaints are not going unheard, but with what is happening in our town and communities across Connecticut, many of these issues are taking a back seat to more pressing violent criminal activities.
In response to this increased criminal activity, we are fielding special anti-crime patrols during specific high crime activity hours, having all our public safety personnel working extra shifts to get more manpower onto our streets to try and address the tide of vehicle break-ins, stolen vehicles, larcenies, and the subsequent rise in “quality of life” crimes.
Mental health calls for service have also increased and our personnel must spend more time with these responses, which takes away from patrol time. However, when personnel staffing permits, we are shifting from being reactive to a more community service type response to these complaints.
Like all Connecticut law enforcement agencies, we are held back by the response restrictions placed on policing practices by our state legislature.
Gone are the days of police engaging in fleeing suspect pursuits for minor offenses and property crimes. To be frank, with the reduction of police qualified immunity protection, officers are erring on the side of caution, with regard to liability, which in turn is restraining their response to calls for service.
There have also been many changes to the juvenile justice system here in our state over the past years, that have changed how law enforcement can respond to offenses committed by juvenile offenders and the consequences for their actions. Much of the current crime wave hitting our community is being perpetrated by “juveniles.”
Although our response to this crime spike is very proactive, our response is tempered by the above restrictions placed upon the police by the Connecticut legislature.
Despite the restrictions we believe that the above-mentioned patrols and policy changes will allow us to combat the crime issues here in Berlin.
Finally, our advice to residents is to keep calling the police. Call us immediately when you observe suspicious behavior. We value and need your assistance. It takes a strong community/policing partnership to keep a community safe. By working together, we will all win with a vibrant and peaceful Berlin.