Public Safety for New Haven

“This Administration is spending even more money in expensive overtime for a diminished force, giving the taxpayers less for more and making our city an even harder place for an officer to have anything like a work-life balance,” said Democrat Shafiq Abdussabur. “It’s time we stopped hemorrhaging the NHPD and our safety City-wide and elect a leader who will know how to build bridges in our communities and promote practical safety measures.”

Accountability for Public Safety: The current structure of the city government is outdated and unresponsive to the changing needs of the city. In no place is this deficit more clear than in regard to our resident's public safety, which relies on a bureaucratic structure that does not promote accountability or expertise in the Mayor’s principal deputy overseeing the city’s public safety services. New Haven City Hall must modernize our government for efficiency. Given technological advances in the past three decades, there are a number of City Departments that can report directly to the Mayor’s Office. It is time that the City prioritizes its first responders in a way that doesn’t bog down other essential City services and makes accountability the first word in our response to the current public safety crisis. 

  • Eliminate the outdated CAO’s Office, Create the NHPSA: the City’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Fire Department (NHFD), Police Department (NHPD), and Public Service Answering Point (PSAP) will all be organized under the newly formed New Haven Public Safety Administration (NHPSA) and led by an Administrator who is a qualified public safety expert. This will keep all emergency services under one roof and in the hands of someone with the skills to address the current public safety crisis. 
  • Reorganize Non-Emergency City Services: In his first budget to the Board of Alders, Shafiq will submit a plan to move the Department of Engineering, the reconstituted Parks Department, and the Department of Public Works (DPW) under the leadership of a re-energized Economic Development Administration while simultaneously moving the Human Resources Department under the leadership of the Community Services Administration. While other staffing and general administrative roles that currently fall under the CAO will be integrated directly into the Mayor’s office in keeping with the charter, which states the Mayor is the Chief Administrative Officer of the City of New Haven. 

Create an Unarmed Auxiliary Constable Division (UACD): Inspired and building from the success of the Downtown Ambassador Program, a program Shafiq designed at the NHPD, he will, as Mayor, work to rehire retired officers for the Unarmed Auxiliary Constable Division, an auxiliary police division for good. New York City and San Francisco have emulated similar programs to great success in building safer, trusting communities. 

  • Walking Beats In Every District: Tasked with walking beats throughout the City’s ten policing districts, enforcing local ordinances such as littering or illegal dumping, the Unarmed Auxiliary Constable Division will be our ambassadors in blue. 
  • Coordinate with Civilian City Departments: This program will work with the Public Safety Academy at Hill House High School and can further mitigate calls for service and coordinate with COMPASS.
  • Meaningful Local Hiring: Providing local jobs to residents will build further economic stability. This way, a parent who was, for example, sacrificing time with their children arraigning transportation to work a second job at a shop in a nearby town for minimum wage can now make more money patrolling the very playgrounds their kids play in while saving themselves and their fellow taxpayers' money by reducing our reliance on overtime.
  • Build Back a Better Department: Giving an understaffed NHPD much-needed support in the short term by allowing retired offices to be paired with residents for their patrols and in cooperation with our Neighborhoods Block Watches to give us the blue surge we need now to fill in the gap left with a current force that is understaffed by over 100 positions and counting and costing the City upwards of $15M in overtime costs due to staffing shortages. 

Build Back the Ranks: When this Mayor came into office, one of his first and worst policy decisions was to cut the police department budget to the point where he acknowledged there would no longer be enough manpower to maintain walking beats and community policing. This initial reckless reduction of our police force also set off a cycle that has resulted in our police force hemorrhaging officers at an alarming rate. As a result, New Haven is spending upwards of $15 Million per year in overtime costs to bridge these shortfalls. It’s time to build back the ranks of the NHPD so they can effectively serve New Haven residents' tens of thousands of calls for service every year. 

  • Incentives to Protect and Serve: Shafiq will incentivize new talent to join the ranks of the NHPD through competitive salaries and housing vouchers. Shafiq will work with local landlords and the police union to attract immediate talent to get the NHPD back on its feet. 
  • Jobs Pipeline for the UACD: The Unarmed Auxiliary Constable Division, in its partnerships with the Public Safety Academy and through hiring residents interested in public service directly from our neighborhood, will provide a stepping stone to our residents for a career in public safety and a pipeline of qualified applicants directly into the NHPD. 
  • Keep Training in-Home: Far too often, officers from the NHPD Academy are trained and then shortly leave. There must also be incentivizations for new recruits to want to stay in New Haven after graduation. Currently, we are paying to train officers all throughout the State when there are limited benefits to keep them here. As Mayor, Shafiq will ensure officers stay for a minimum of 5 years after training.
  • Leadership our officers can believe in: Our city is hemorrhaging police officers to other municipalities because the police force's faith in our city’s government is at an all-time low. Under Shafiq's leadership and the new office of the Public Safety Administration, they will know that they are working for an administration that understands the demands of the job and is ready to face the challenges of keeping our city safe rather than out-of-touch bureaucrats and politicians chasing the latest fads to the detriment our community. 
  • Addressing Widespread Violence: In the short term, we also need a Mayor brave enough to tell the truth and declare a formal state of emergency in response to the doubling of our homicide and shooting rates under the current administration. This will allow our City to begin the process of receiving Federal and State agents to provide the staffing we need immediately to create an effective and dedicated Homicide Unit and an additional Cold Case Unit. We need to bring justice to these families and security to the citizens. Solving these crimes and getting the murderers now walking free off our streets is a vital first step.

Rebrand the Badge: For Shafiq, being an NHPD Officer for over 20 years was one of the greatest honors of his life. This job was a gateway to the middle class, a platform to raise people up, provide awareness, and solve problems equitably in our neighborhoods. It is abundantly clear the lack of experience and vision with public safety in this Mayor. The truth is this Administration has doubled shootings and homicides over three years when compared to the previous six. It’s time we rebuild trust in our Officers – many of whom are already working exhaustion-level hours with limited benefits and resources, putting their lives on the line. 

  • Real Walking Beats: As Mayor, Shafiq will create a real community engagement policing model that requires no cruiser and embraces that ground-level community building that is so hard to accomplish with a dwindling department. He will restore walking daytime and evening walking beats in all 10 policing districts. The department has been short-staffed, leading to the elimination of walking beats.
  • Humane Detention: The NHPD will assign a full-time nurse to detention as part of our intake process to attend to medical needs such as insulin, address issues related to substance abuse, and provide medical evaluations and direct referrals for detainees requiring treatment. Detention will now include showers and toiletries for anyone held over the weekend or holiday closings. The NHPD will also include a live camera on all cells and intake areas. 
  • Community Policing Task Force: As Mayor, Shafiq will re-establish the City’s Task Force on Community Policing, an organization he had worked to form while at the NHPD. The group will bring practical expertise, community needs and cutting-edge technologies to how we can better serve our community through effective community policing. 

Safer Streets: New Haveners are dodging cars and bullets in many neighborhoods. We need a Mayor that understands one’s safety on their bike, on the sidewalk, in their car, during an altercation, and after. 

  • Re-Establish the Gun Violence Intervention Program: While working as the CEO of the NHPD, Shafiq helped write the policy for the Gun Violence Intervention Program, an All-American City Award program recipient that saw an 86% annual drop in gun violence once it was implemented in the Elm City. With shootings and homicides skyrocketing over the past three years, Shafiq will bring back this program that has already proven its vital importance in our community when preventing violent crime. 
  • City-Wide Trauma Response Team: As Mayor, Shafiq will build from his work with community leaders like Pastor John Lewis to implement a weekly ​community trauma/resource canvassing at shooting victims’ homes and neighborhoods, building off their community model to create a City-wide model and sharing details with CSA. 
  • Keeping Youth Engaged: Shafiq will form a deeper relationship with the NHPD and those who service New Haven youth at City Hall and in local organizations to engage young people during school, when school is out, and when they graduate. By creating a pipeline to blue-collar jobs, Shafiq can afford many families their first shot at joining the middle class. College is not for everyone, and it is critical that the City identifies these needs and nurtures this potential workforce so that they can flourish. 
  • Commitment to Vision Zero: Last year was the deadliest year on the roads of CT, and residents want answers about what their next mayor will do about red-light runners and reckless drivers. Shafiq will convene the City Engineer’s Office, State DOT and TT&P with Alders and State officials to continue to pass practical solutions to increase safety and build on hard-fought, necessary legislation.
  • Establish a Vehicle Violation Unit: Many out-of-towners come to New Haven to illegally ride ATVs and dirtbikes in our neighborhoods, posing safety risks to pedestrians. To make safety matters worse, vehicle thefts are also on the rise. As Mayor, Shafiq will build on measures that already exist – such as fining those who sell gasoline to these illegal vehicles – and will increase the fines for those who are caught in illegal vehicles. To streamline this work, he will also establish a Vehicle Violation Unit within NHPD to crack down on car thefts and illegal vehicles.