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Hamden community forum addresses uptick in crime

The meeting drew in a large group of people looking for answers from officials about what is being done to address the problem.

HAMDEN, Conn — People in Hamden are frustrated by an uptick in crime.

"It's like I'm unsafe in my own town," said one resident at a community forum Wednesday evening.

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Robberies and carjackings have been reported at shopping plazas in town. Most recently a 74-year-old woman was attacked before thieves took off with her car at the Hamden Plaza. Police responded to several reports of cars broken into at the same plaza in February. Just a couple of days earlier, an 83-year-old woman was knocked to the ground when someone tried to steal her purse there.

All of it leaves people on edge.

"I cannot shop in my own town. None of my neighbors shop here anymore, none of my friends shop here anymore," said one resident.

"My mother is sometimes she's very nervous of going into ShopRite, going into Stop and Shop," another resident shared.

In response, the Hamden Strengthening Police and Community Partnerships Council hosted a community forum Wednesday evening. It gave people the chance to get answers about what's being done to address the crime.

"We have a crime deterrent unit that we're putting out at different times of the day. So we have most of our coverage now day and night time so you should see some officers out there," said Chief John Sullivan.

"There are more cameras with very good quality surveillance cameras that they put at the plaza," said Hamden mayor Lauren Garrett.

Though some residents speaking out expressed concern that there are not enough proactive steps being taken, police say things like surveillance cameras do play a big role in investigations. The department is also trying to overcome staffing issues.

"We can't be everywhere, but we do try to target the areas where crimes are occurring we call them hot spots," said Lt. William Onofrio.

Police and experts said it is a complicated problem that unfortunately does not have a simple solution.

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"Police work really hard to try and solve property crimes but they're hard to solve right. And you do make resource allocation decisions. For example, the state crime lab isn't going to process you know DNA swabbing of every single vehicle that's recovered," said Ken Barone, of the Institute of Regional and Municipal Policy at CCSU.

Carjackings like the ones that occurred in Hamden are considered violent offenses, not just property crimes. That crime is one of the few in Connecticut that does have a mandatory minimum prison sentence.

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Police said community conversations like the one held Wednesday are a part of their plan to curb crime.

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at mmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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