Fairfield saw nine homicides in 2012. Eight occurred between January and April. That was more than enough to get Fairfield civic leaders, local police and the community engaged in a meaningful exercise whose aim was to prevent violent crime in identified high-crime neighborhoods.
City leaders, police and residents took part in a series of community meetings designed in part to mend a strained relationship between residents and police. Those meetings took place at an elementary school in the Hayes Street area of central Fairfield, where three of the city’s first eight homicides occurred in 2012, in the Grande Circle neighborhood, where a double-homicide occurred, and on Dana Drive, the site of a number of shootings but thankfully, no homicides during 2012.
These meetings allow police to develop a working relationship with neighborhood residents. City officials can assess the neighborhoods and offer tips to property owners about ways to deter crime through such things as better lighting, proper landscaping and landlord-tenant agreements that allow for swift eviction of anyone who commits a serious crime.
It’s too soon to know if the neighborhood meetings have prevented violent crimes from occurring there, but the numbers are encouraging: There was only one other homicide in Fairfield from May through December, and it occurred in another part of town.
For this effort to work, residents must commit to reporting suspicious activity as they witness it, and police must commit to a swift response. Graffiti must be reported and removed in a timely manner so gangs cannot establish a foothold in our neighborhoods. The city must commit to proper maintenance of our parks, lest they become safe havens for criminals to plot their ill deeds.
We believe all of this is possible. And necessary.
Together, we can turn the tide of violence and let the criminals among us know that it’s no longer safe for them to operate in Fairfield.