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9/3/2015 - Boston and Bridgeport Mayors, Police Chiefs Discuss Cracking Down on Gun Violence

Bridgeport, Conn. (September 3, 2015) -- Today, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch and Police Chief Joseph Gaudett joined Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and Police Commissioner William Evans to discuss efforts to beat back illegal gun use and gun violence in their respective cities.

“Community policing works in both Bridgeport and in Boston,” said Mayor Bill Finch. “We need to continue community policing. We need to keep working on it through outreach from the police and the clergy to the youth that may be prone to violence like what we’re doing with Project Longevity and Streets Safe.”

Mayor Walsh and Mayor Finch are both members of Everytown for Gun Safety, a movement to end gun violence and build safer communities.

“It’s important for collaboration and to share best practices,” said Mayor Martin Walsh. “When we’re talking in the room about the Bridgeport gun buyback program that has taken significant guns off the streets. We have a program in Boston as well and we’re looking to re-energize our own program.”

“There are too many guns out there,” said Police Commissioner William Evans. “We continue every day to take guns off the street through gun buyback programs. But we all agree that we have to be on the same page so guns aren’t flowing freely into our cities.”

“Cities across the nation are seeing a startling rise in murders after years of declines,” according to a report from the New York Times.

“More than 30 cities have reported increases in violence from a year ago. In New Orleans, 120 people had been killed by late August, compared with 98 during the same period a year earlier. In Baltimore, homicides had hit 215, up from 138 at the same point in 2014. In Washington, the toll was 105, compared with 73 people a year ago. And in St. Louis, 136 people had been killed this year, a 60 percent rise from the 85 murders the city had by the same time last year.”

In Connecticut, many cities have seen an uptick in violent crime, but the worst has been seen in Hartford. This year's homicide rate in Hartford has now surpassed that of Boston, a city five times its size. It's also more than the homicide rate in Bridgeport and New Haven put together.

Among the actions Mayor Finch has taken against gun violence in Bridgeport is a gun buyback program. Initiated by Mayor Finch in 2012, the gun buyback program has helped take over 1,000 guns off of the streets. A recent gun buyback event held earlier this month resulted in 127 weapons being turned in.

The Gun Buyback is part of an comprehensive strategy to reduce violence in the city. The Police Department has started daily walking beats in public housing complexes and opened a new community substation in Trumbull Gardens this month. This year, the department also started walking beats on East Main Street. Mayor Finch and the department have partnered with state and federal law enforcement in Project Longevity to take the people who commit violence off of our streets while offering support and a helping hand to the folks who want to change their lives for the better.

And, every day, the police department crime analysis unit and area commanders look for emerging crime trends and shift resources as needed.