MERIDEN — Police have seized over a dozen firearms following a recent uptick in gun violence since July, along with making over a dozen arrests.
Since July 1 police have seized 16 firearms and made at least 18 arrests, Police Chief Roberto Rosado said Friday. Most of the individuals arrested are believed to be involved in the increased gun violence that has been occurring Rosado noted.
“All officers and detectives are doing a phenomenal job,” Rosado said. “Also the community. Everyone has been very motivated, working hard, working together and working diligently to try to curb this violence...I want to give credit to the officers and detectives on the ground working long hours to curb some of this violence.”
Rosado said the information that the community provides is paramount to help police solve cases. He noted the number of incidents has started to decline, which he credits to officers’ proactive work. Rosado said by making the arrests and getting the firearms off the streets officers are thwarting violence that could be occurring. City Manager Timothy Coon said he is very proud of the officers’ diligent work.
“They have done a tremendous job, working tirelessly to get these guns off the street, and the people who are using them,” Coon said Friday. “I can’t commend them more highly.”
Coon also noted the importance of residents working with police and sharing any information they may have about illicit activity.
Rosado noted the 16 firearms that were seized included 12 handguns, two shotguns, one rifle and one assault-style pistol. Some of the firearms were previously reported stolen, and some are “ghost guns” which don’t come back with any information tied to a serial number, Rosado said.
Det. Lt. Steve Burstein said officers use a variety of techniques to investigate and develop information on firearm related cases. He said officers get information through methods such as motor vehicle stops, people calling the tip line, or developing information in a longer term investigation. He noted they also work with other agencies. Rosado said Wallingford, Cheshire and Cromwell police departments and the state attorney’s office in New Haven have all recently assisted in various investigations.
Once the firearms are seized, they go into evidence for the person’s case. Once the case is disposed of in court, Rosado said the department will typically get a court order to destroy the firearm. He said an officer will bring the firearm to a location, watch it physically be destroyed and return the court order affirming it was destroyed. Rosado noted that the guns are not getting back out onto the streets for these cases, which usually involve a person with a criminal history that is prohibited from possessing the firearm in the first place.
Burstein said it can be “very disheartening” when police learn that someone arrested with a firearm was released through the court system. He noted one recent arrest of a man illegally possessing a firearm who was released back into the community.
Burstein said when an officer responds to a call that may involve firearms, such as a “shots fired” call, there are always multiple officers dispatched to ensure everyone’s safety. At traffic stops there are always two officers, he noted.
“We at the police department can’t do this alone,” Burstein said. “We know we can’t do it without community support...If you see an officer have a conversation with them. Right now officers are going through tough times...The men and women of this department work very hard...They really do come in here and want to make a positive difference in the community... Stand behind us, stand with us, continue working with us and we can continue working with them.”