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New Haven Clergy members say their city is in state of emergency

This comes after five homicides in New Haven in just four weeks.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Four weeks into the new year and already, New Haven has lost five people to gun violence. On Tuesday, members of the Greater New Haven Clergy Association came together at First Calvary Baptist Church, calling on the city to act on the problem.

"It is a state of emergency. And we're not blaming anyone. What we want to do is be a part of the solution," said Rev. Dr. Boise Kimber of The Greater New Haven Clergy Association.

"Enough is enough. And we're tired of all of this violence that is happening in our communities. And we're going to ban together to make sure that this violence stops," said West Hills Alder, Honda Smith.

Dr. Kimber said he and his clergy have come up with a plan after speaking with a consultant to stop the violence. They'll be presenting it to the public, police, and city leaders on Thursday at 6 p.m. at First Calvary Baptist Church on Dixwell Ave.

But first, Dr. Kimber said he wants to hear from officials on what *their plan is. 

"I'm still appalled at the fact that you would put this plan out at the police department and tell the community, this is our plan, who have you talked to," Dr. Kimber said. 

Last week, members of The New Haven Police Department got together with Mayor Justin Elicker to present their strategy to stop gun violence. They laid out recent crime statistics and talked about what they're doing to combat it. On top of police work and adding new technology around the city, they also talked about community programs...existing and new...that they're investing in.

"This plan was not a new plan that we presented, the only new piece of the plan was the gun violence coordinator," Chief Karl Jacobson said.

Two weeks ago, the city announced that they would have their very first coordinator for the Office of Violence Prevention, Reuel Parks. Other than that detail, Chief Jacobson said the clergy is aware of their other strategies and is involved with many of them. 

"We appreciate Dr. Kimber and his group's interest in the violence in the city. That's really important. That's important to me as the chief, and community policing," said Chief Jacobson.

Jacobson said there is something called the Police Clergy Academy, which aims to improve the relationship between the cops and the community. On Tuesday, police conducted a canvas in the neighborhood where the latest homicide took place, on Whalley Avenue, where members of the clergy showed up. 

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The Chief said he's looking forward to continuing the conversation at the meeting on Thursday. 

"And I think it's really important this time where we've had some more homicides, that we do engage the community. So, I don't think they're off base with their request to engage with the community and we're going to do that on Thursday with them," Chief Jacobson said.

A community, that's hurting, especially for their children.

"We need to find new ways to help them transcend and gain new ground on something that they don't believe that they have right now, which is a future," said Sean Reeves of New Haven. 

Once again, the community meeting will be held at 6 p.m. at First Calvary Baptist Church. Those invited include members of the public, the chief state's attorney, the New Haven chief of police, and they're putting a call in to the U.S. Attorney's office. 

Julia LeBlanc is a reporter at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jleblanc@fox61.com Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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