MERIDEN — Local police are working with the FBI and a state task force following continued incidents of gun violence in the city.
Chief Roberto Rosado said in a statement this week that “members of the Meriden Police Department are working with the FBI’s Gang Violence and the CT Violent Crime Task Forces,” noting that many recent arrests have been a result of the agencies working together. So far there have been 17 firearms seized and about 20 arrests.
“It’s not acceptable to us or to the residents of the city. It doesn’t make anyone safe, residents or officers, to have these individuals on the street,” Rosado said.
Police responded to a report of gunshots at Ceppa Field, 101 Gale Ave. just before 6 p.m. on Sunday. A short time later, police were notified there was a man with a gunshot wound to his arm at MidState Medical Center, Lt. Chris Fry said in a release. Police found 15 shell casings at Ceppa Field and a pocket knife that was halfway open, according to police reports. Police received several descriptions of vehicles seen leaving the area after the shooting.
Earlier in the day there was a baseball game involving the Connecticut Riptide, a locally based youth program, said Chris Bourdon, head of the city parks and recreation department. The players were out by noon and there was no scheduled activity at the time of the shooting.
“I’m very saddened because parks are places where people go to enjoy themselves and have fun,” Bourdon said. “An activity like this invades the sanctity. It is disappointing to happen anywhere in Meriden...I strongly encourage anyone that has information to please contact the police department...One tip or one phone call may be the thing that breaks the case.”
Holly Wills, president of the Council of Neighborhoods, said she knows the police department is doing everything it can and is working to stop the violence. Wills said she is a proponent of adding more Neighborhood Initiative officers back to the street.
“It’s concerning because the neighborhoods where this is happening, this is where we are raising our families and our children,” Wills said. “I know the police department is working diligently and they have made multiple gun arrests and taken multiple guns off the street.”
Rosado said the department is about to begin the process of preparing the budget for the next fiscal year. He said increasing the staff at the department is something he will be looking at in the next budget, but noted that is a long term approach. Rosado said it takes time to hire, train and get new officers out on the streets. He said the department would look at assigning more officers to investigative roles.
Michael Cardona, chairman of the public safety committee, said the police department is using all available resources to address the gun violence. He noted the department is working with outside agencies to “bring the people involved in these shootings to justice.”
Rosado said the department has been arresting repeat offenders. He expressed his frustration that despite his agency doing the best it can, the individuals are being released back into the community. He said the department needs the community’s help.
“...I want to let the public know we have been working around the clock on investigations and to have a presence,” he said. “The officers have done a phenomenal job making a number of arrests.”