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Dear Police, Just Be Honest with Us About Crime

Living in a small town that prides itself on being comfortable with leaving windows and doors unlocked is now just a dream.

I live in a small town that has recently been victim to a number of both car break-ins and home robberies this summer. Yet, until recently residents were ignorant of it. According to sources, those town officials who did know did not want to cause a panic.

In one of those incidents, a resident’s home was entered through a sliding back door which had been left unlocked. Many items were taken and with them the safety and security of the homeowner’s state of mind. When the discovery was made, two on-duty police officers were quick with their response time and she says she was told there had been other break-ins around town.  

This homeowner was rightly upset over the invasion of her home, the theft of her property and the violation of her privacy. Her teenage daughter couldn’t sleep, laid awake terrified anticipating the burglars return. She asked herself over and over: How did this happen in such a small town? And why didn’t she know about the other recent home invasions? Until now, most people felt comfortable leaving their doors and windows unlocked, especially during the long and breezy summer days.  

Now, any parent would take extra protective measures after such a violation of safety. Among such measures was the act of reaching out to neighbors to alert them to lock their doors and windows.

After posting her experience on her Facebook wall, within minutes she had nearly forty comments from neighbors and other town people. There was an immediate connection. Other residents began listing their own robbery experience and others they knew who had also been robbed. She was no longer alone. 

Whether there were five, 10, 15 or 20 robberies, how is it, that we as residents, didn’t know about a single one? Why find out through social media or our neighbors instead of through the people who we pay to protect us?  What is wrong with this picture?  There must be a better solution to this problem.

Phone calls were made to a few town officials, but the woman felt she received little support and encouragement. She was made to feel as if she was overreacting. I disagree. I grew up believing police leaders were there to Serve and Protect. You think the mindset would be, “Not on my watch,” or “Not in my town.”  

There were conflicting reports as to how many robberies had occurred in town over the summer. The woman decided to ask a few questions and discovered that if a taxpaying citizen wants to know exactly how many robberies occurred in their community, through the Freedom of Information Act, it is their legal right to know. But should taxpayers have to file legal requests to find out the police activity in town? I don’t think so.

Since most people in town knew what happened, I began asking their thoughts on the situation. Some felt her back door should have been locked. Some felt she was overreacting. Some felt the chief of police might be manipulating the number of robberies so residents won’t panic. Yet, the most common response I received was the necessity of informing residents of such incidents. 

After looking into it, some other local police departments post a daily log online. This is a simple and convenient way to communicate information to residents. Everything was listed from traffic stops to burglaries. It can even be done at a level of confidentiality; street names were listed (not house numbers), names were not mentioned for traffic stops, etc.  It was purely informational.  

If the community knows of such frequency (or infrequency) of robberies or any other criminal behavior, we can better protect ourselves and our neighbors.  If residents had known of these robberies in town, I believe more precaution for their own home protection would have been taken. By keeping it mute and under wraps, it only makes matters worse.  

Someone I know was burglarized. I can choose to keep the peace, smile, agree with others, even if I don’t. Or, I can venture off the manicured path, take a risk and speak what’s echoed in the hallways. If you live in a small town, doing either can be difficult.  

Harry Sawyer September 03, 2012 at 10:23 AM
Let me shed a bit of light on this subject: Since when, was it the cop's (constable on patrol), responsibility to monitor your home and your belongings? If they see a crime in progress, they WILL respond. If they receive a call, related to a crime, they WILL respond. Do yourself a favor, and protect your home and your good's. It is YOUR responsbility to limit a possible crime into your home. This is why the US Constitution was drafted. Read it. As far as FOI, (freedom of information act), you can easily request any public documents. Remember, this great nation was built on "We the People" not, we the Government.... I agree, the media, sheds little light on any subject that will cause panic. The media is controlled, and will only release information, that will benefit the establishment. Not the people. If your eyes and ears are well open, to what is going on, crime is on the rise, everywhere... Why? Because there are little to no jobs available, to support one's right to live.. So, in turn, they will commit crimes to justify their needs. Very sad, but it's what is happening... My conclusion, keep your doors locked. Post no tresspassing signs on your property. Think about it, if you have a safe full of your valuables, wouldn't it be fullish, to keep it wide open????
John St September 03, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Enfield police post a log every couple of days. Not sure what you are talking about.
Cami Beiter September 03, 2012 at 12:50 PM
The police did respond. The homeowner discovered there had been a number of other robberies in town this summer. There is no posted police log, no information is posted, nor given to residents, even when requested. This is the concern of the residents in town.
Chris Carroll September 03, 2012 at 02:00 PM
That's why I have a gun permit and a gun. The police would not be able to respond quick enough, there's only 2 at night!
meowkats4 September 03, 2012 at 03:51 PM
I find out about crime going on in my town by reading the VERNON PATCH!! Start looking at the daily log, it list emergency calls, along with other information.
Pat Droney September 03, 2012 at 04:23 PM
The police log is public information. They have to release it to you upon request.
Kay La September 03, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Enfield Patch police blotter keeps me pretty informed (and entertained) . I know enough to keep my house locked up like Fort Knox when im not home (and even when I am)...this is 2012 after all. We're not in the 40's or 50's anymore where you could leave your house wide open day & night. Lock it up or lose it!
Ole ole September 04, 2012 at 12:13 AM
In my "small town" there was a police chief who never mentioned crime at all except for tickets and such. We never knew what was really going on. I guess if he said something it means he would be responsible to do something about it and we know he didn't want to do anything.
MD Reed September 04, 2012 at 12:16 PM
It boggles my mind that in this day in age whatever police department you are referring to wouldn't take to heart the value of open communication with their residents. Perhaps its a resident trooper town? Also, there is a big difference between robbery and burglary. Robbery is a taking of property by force or threatened force. A burglary is when someone breaks into your house or car with the intent of committing a crime; often the taking of property (larceny). The incidents you describe are burglaries.
Karen's Dog Training Blog September 04, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Perhaps the problem is that towns don't want to admit there is crime in certain areas. Bad for home sales and business... Drugs are a real problem in the valley, yet how many towns have k9s who can find drugs in cars, lockers etc? Having such a k9 would be admitting a problem exists. Years ago a friend was attacked in a parking lot at work in Hartford. The company's mgmt made a decision NOT to tell the employees for fear the women would be frightened. The victim told us and we confronted mgmt. They didn't want to "scare" us. Working and living in an area can creat a false sense of security. If a crime occurs, people need to be told so they can be reminded that you are vulnerable no matter where you are. The recent posting of the police logs is a start for people to realize they need to take steps to stay safe.
Olive3 September 04, 2012 at 01:44 PM
This is an unrelated story that happened on Saturday nite in New Haven. Tell me what you think of this situation. My brother and his wife were traveling home from a family wedding about 11: pm. About a mile from the reception, just as they took a corner turn and approached the up coming light, waiting to enter the 95 entrance ramp, when out of nowhere they were hit on the drivers side by someone who crossed over the center line, without lights. They had no time to react and both airbags were deployed. Luckily everyone was ok ( a few minor scrapes). A New Haven police officer was called and arrived....help was here....not. He looked over the accident scene, told my brother he wasn't going to give out any tickets (this has to be the stupidist statement ever given)....because he was not there when the accident occurred and so he didn't know who was at fault! (How many officers HAVE been at an accident when it occurs) He did not give breath tests to anyone...brother and wife don't drink, however the other driver may have been under the influence. Wreckers were called and off he went. My brother tried to make sense of this but the officer did not want to hear anything... he probably would have arrested my brother if he continued to persue the point. To be cont'd
Olive3 September 04, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Where's the justice here? No ticket means that my brothers insurance company has to pay? It looks like the officer knew the other party and was trying to wash it under the rug. I feel they should be on the side of the law!! The accident will tell the true story along with the pictures he took, but when you see help arrive you need to feel they WILL do the right thing!
Olive3 September 04, 2012 at 02:04 PM
As for a response on the blog, I think that informing the public about crime in their community is key for citizens to help themselves. I know from experience that keeping your car doors locked, especially at nite, is essential. Spare change and other items for resale can be quite a lucrative business for the neighborhood thief. But knowing that something like car breakins in the neighborhood reminds people because we become complacent. People would step and have as more watchful eye.
Olive3 September 04, 2012 at 02:16 PM
Thanks Pat. I was hoping you would read this. I felt the same. He did fill out a report, but my brother has to send in for it. Would he get any help by going above this officer? We are from out of town and let's remember that this officer is a part of the supervisors "family", not us. Given the response at the scene I can't help to be a little sceptical and don't want to make more trouble. Why wouldn't he back his guy? Isn't the procedure the responding officer followed New Haven's protocal?
Pat Droney September 04, 2012 at 02:21 PM
First, that was a crock that he "didn't see it happen" so he can't take action. As you said, 99.9% of accidents are not witnessed by police officers. That's why they are "investigated." Based on what you're saying, it should have been rather easy to figure out what happened. Some officers are lazy and figure the "insurance company will figure it out" but that's doing a disservice. I would go to NHPD and talk to a supervisor, or short of that, file a complaint with the department. If this is indeed New Haven's protocol, it's not correct and I think most police officers would agree. I would definitely go over his head...if you don't get anywhere with a sergeant go to a lieutenant or above. Cops like this give other cops a bad name.
Olive3 September 04, 2012 at 02:27 PM
I will relay your suggestions to my brother. I appreciate your help. This is coming from your old neighbor @ 3 Lancer Dr. Thank you.
Peter Sterling September 04, 2012 at 03:24 PM
all this and I still don't know what town they are talking about - does anyone know
TomG September 04, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Cami listen to Chris Carroll above. I have a wife, a little girl and a little girl on the way and I sleep peacefully knowing there are 2 guns within reach should someone try to break in our house while we are there. There's no such thing as a safe town.
taxpayer September 04, 2012 at 04:05 PM
The fact of the matter is EPD is a joke. Its all smoke and mirrors. They spend 99% of their time pulling people over, issuing tickets and focusing on DUI's. Read the blotter its all DUI's and traffic arrests. Very rarely do you see any narcotics arrests, burglary arrests, etc. For a town the size of Enfield, and a town that doesnt have a "crime problem" the police force is probably well over 100 officers by now. I dont have the exact size or crime stats in front of me, but I would say 80% of their attention is towards traffic enforcement. This police department should be doing more proactive work to address crime....car breakers, stolen motor vehicles, narcotics, burglaries..ie crimes that matter. Instead they rather write tickets and "be visible." Oh and dont get me started on perception or discretion. Morale in this PD is low low low. Other towns laugh at them and they are quickly loosing their reputation around the area as far as being a trusted PD.
Pat Droney September 04, 2012 at 05:51 PM
Yeah, lot of DUI and tickets here: James R. Whittemore, 50, of 109 Pearl St., #1-A, Enfield, was charged with 3rd-degree abuse of persons and disorderly conduct, on a 2012 warrant, 11:00 a.m. Christopher M. Dudek, 37, of 93 Merwin Ave., Milford, was charged with possession of narcotics, possession of a controlled substance/marijuana, possession of a hallucinogen, sale of certain illegal drugs and possession of drugs with intent to sell August 11 Michelle E. Baker, 40, of 327 Okaloosa Ave., Valparaiso, FL, was charged with 2nd-degree failure to appear Lawrence R. Bourque, 19, of 6-G Thistle Ln., Enfield, was charged with 2nd-degree breach of peace, 3rd-degree assault and 2nd-degree unlawful restraint David H. Brown, 39, of 760 Atlantic St., Bridgeport, was charged with 2nd-degree failure to appear (two counts), on a pair of 2001 warrants, Lynda L. Haslem, 54, of 54 Sunset Dr., Somers, was charged with 1st-degree failure to appear, on a 2011 warrant, 9:00 p.m. Richard L. Spence, 55, of 780 Troy St., Dayton, OH, was charged with illegal possession of a weapon in a motor vehicle, loaning/selling a marker/license/registration and operating an unregistered motor vehicle, August 12 Daniel J. Candella, 24, of 1303 Woodgate Cir., Enfield, was charged with 2nd-degree breach of peace and 3rd-degree assault, Leonard S. Sass, 62, of 493 Washington Rd., Enfield, was charged with 2nd-degree breach of peace and 2nd-degree assault,
taxpayer September 04, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Mr. Droney, Please do all of your homework and read all the police blotters not just one day.
Pat Droney September 04, 2012 at 07:53 PM
That appears to be three days...they do a LOT more than just traffic enforcement. But you're entitled to your opinion....
taxpayer September 04, 2012 at 08:01 PM
and your entitled to yours too. we could volley back and forth all day. but there are OTHER issues in town that need to be addressed and I strongly believe they are being used in areas that do not need as much attention. but than again, what do i know
Happy Percy September 04, 2012 at 08:07 PM
Other times the drug pusher or other criminal is protected in these smal CT towns because of a possible relationship to someone on the Police Force or in Town Hall.
MD Reed September 05, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Matt 9:44 am on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 Often times in small communities politics will control what kind of ralationship the police have with their residents or the kind of information they release. It makes sense for the police to release the information as it may help prevent additional crime. However, if the elected official (mayor, 1st selectman, etc) says don't put out that kind of information because it may "scare" people or "make our community look bad", then the police chief's hands are somewhat tied. It seems to me that it would be best to get the information in the public's hands and let them decide how best to protect themselves and their property. PLUS, what's wrong with letting the community know that the officers are actually doing police work. By the way, traffic stops are just about the best way to catch bad guys. The burglars, robbers and rapists all drive. Aggressive traffic enforcement is an incredibly effective crime fighting tool. The killers of Officer Aselton were captured as the result of a traffic stop. The Oklahoma City bomber was captured as the result of a traffic stop.
Observor September 06, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Kind of like how when Rudy Guliani in New York had the transit cops start arresting turnstile jumpers and it turned out the majority had outstanding warrants. People who commit big crimes are prone to commit little ones, too.
meowkats4 September 06, 2012 at 05:59 PM
Hey, I look daily at the Vernon Patch Log!!! I think we have have a lot going on here in a small town just yesterdays blotter shows 66 (calls) these include the 911 calls for medical, disturbances etc along with traffic stops! I pay very close attention to what is listed on my surrounding streets! A few months back many of us got on the Vernon Patch made a ruckus about problems in Rockville, saying we needed another sub- station for police right in the center of Rockville (we had one but, it closed up a few years back) Well, it is NOW open again and we have a patrol out and about! People have to start helping out their own communities, almost everyone has a cell phone some take pictures - well start using them, and start reporting if you see something report it! Just think it may be someone in trouble, you need to start getting involved/without putting yourself at risk is very important too! We still have those signs that say "Neighborhood Watch", who's watching?
Perry Robbin September 06, 2012 at 06:14 PM
Just to let everyone know, this post is specifically referring to the town of Suffield – many other towns have publicly available police blotters.
Saul Freedman January 07, 2013 at 06:38 PM
Cami, The police have no legal obligation to protect you from crimes. They exist to arrest the offenders. Please educate yourself. Saul
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