Fifteen months ago, Chief Patrick Harnett, the former narcotics chief of the New York Police Department, took over Hartford’s scandal-scarred force. Only a few years earlier, a consultant hired by the city had labeled the department “dysfunctional.” Morale among the rank and file in the 420-member department was low, and no wonder. Before Harnett arrived, there had been five chiefs in as many years. Complicating his job, longstanding tensions remained between the police and the city’s mostly poor, mostly black and Latino residents, reports the New York Times.
Chief Harnett, 61, applied lessons learned from 32 years of policing in New York. He began using computers to analyze crimes for patterns to help in deploying officers. He put more officers on the street. He reorganized the department and made supervisors more accountable. And he has reached out to community leaders for help. So far, measured by statistics, results have been mixed. Overall crime is down, with fewer rapes, robberies and auto thefts. But the homicide rate is up 58 percent from the same period last year, with 19 murders this year, and shootings were up slightly. One of the linchpins of his effort is “turf-based accountability,” which holds ranking officers responsible for crime in their districts.