The City of Hartford is joining a nationwide competition to challenge city leaders to utilize their resources to help children who live in neighbors where violent crime is commonplace.
Using ShotSpotter, a tool that alerts police when a gun is fired, Mayor Luke Bronin along with educators, childhood professionals, and youth support groups have developed a program, called ACTION, Alleviating Child Trauma in Our Neighbors, to pinpoint the neighborhood where violent crime is prevalent.
Hartford is one 35 cities enrolled in 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Hartford received $100,000 to bolster its resources to develop the plan to help children cope by providing real time support.
Ten-year-old, Jahday Gayle lives on Henry Street and on Saturday afternoon, a 37-year-old man was shot and killed in his neighborhood.
“I was just having a normal day,” said Jahday, who, along with his grandfather, spoke to Channel 3 as police were responding to the scene.
“Next thing you know, we hear gunshots, and then he locks the doors, and then he’s going to walk out and locks me in, so nothing will happen to me,” said Jahday. “He came back and he said there is a shooting.”
While Jahday has the support of his grandfather, city officials said nearly 1,500 children were exposed, directly or indirectly to gun violence, which climbs upwards to about 100 shootings each year.
Deputy Chief Brian Foley said officers putting yellow tape up in neighborhoods see the faces of children exposed to violence.
“There’s nothing worse for a cop than to sit there on a crime scene look out at kid playing with his toys and with blood stains and shell casings, everything that is going on 20 yards away,” said Chief Foley.
“And you think to yourself, as a cop, man, this poor kid is in such challenging circumstances and there’s nothing I can do to help him.”
If the City of Hartford wins the Bloomberg Philanthropies Challenge, city officials will receive 5 million dollars to continue to improve the initiative. The next four runners-up will receive one million dollars.
“If we could just stop the gun violence in Hartford. No more war, just peace, it would be much better for all of us to come together as one,” said Jahday.
City officials have 6 months to improve the plan before presenting.
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