MERIDEN — Police on Wednesday announced the formation of a task force with the FBI and the Waterbury Police Department to combat rising gun violence.
The task force was announced during a press conference outside the police station Wednesday afternoon. Meriden Police Chief Roberto Rosado, David Sundberg, FBI Special Agent in charge of the New Haven field office, and Waterbury Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo spoke about the collaboration.
“We need to come together to share our resources and intelligence,” Rosado said Wednesday. “That’s what the focus is for this organization, this partnership. With this task force we’re looking to increase the benefit to our community as well as other surrounding communities nearby.”
Spagnolo said his department has seen a significant increase in gun violence in Waterbury and other urban areas in recent months. Investigations showed a connection between incidents in Waterbury and Meriden, Spagnolo said.
He noted investigations have led to arrests in the Waterbury area. Rosado said Meriden police have seized 17 firearms and made 20 arrests in connection with the violence.
“When we combine FBI resources, technology, specialized personnel, along with dedicated police officers and detectives who have local knowledge and understand the intelligence and who these actors are in these communities that are committing these crimes, we build a collaborative effort that has been proven time and time again to reduce gun violence,” Sundberg said.
Sundberg said the model for the task force started in Hartford, went down into Waterbury and found a connection to Meriden.
He said the joint effort is starting to produce results. He noted most of the violence is committed by a very small portion of the communities.
Sundberg said the FBI is able to bring in specialized personnel with deep background knowledge about these topics and provide access to technology that may be out of budgetary reach of local departments.
Sundberg said he couldn’t speak about what the technology entails, citing the ongoing nature of the investigations.
He said the task force will be looking into the cause of the rise in gun violence, both to be able to predict where authorities might need to focus future efforts and to understand the criminality behind it.
Rosado said the agencies have been working together for some time behind the scenes.
“We don’t want history to repeat itself. So our goal is to nip this in the bud right now and then take care of it in the future and continue to work together to make sure this does not occur again,” Rosado said.
Sundberg said the FBI’s work involves targeted investigations, and does not include broad public surveillance.
“There are times like this when the violence takes a sharp spike and increases, which we need to have a more public effort,” Sunberg said, noting the FBI is always in local communities even when are not publicly visible. “...We are always here working for people’s safety.”