Lt. Scott Stevenson is the Commander of the Community Relations Division in the Waterbury PD. Story and Photographs By John Murray
The setting was perfect.
Lt. Scott Stevenson strolled down Elaine Rice’s driveway in the East End of Waterbury and entered a small garden sanctuary to meet with community leaders from the Waterbury Neighborhood Council. Stevenson is the commander of the Community Relations Division and updated the small gathering on several key developments in the Waterbury Police Department.
Lt. Stevenson arrives at the meeting in the Alexander Neighborhood off Meriden Road.
Stevenson said his department, which had been working at 40% staffing, would soon be restored to 14 officers. The department had been gutted by transfers during budget cost cutting measures, but when community leaders led by the Waterbury Neighborhood Council demanded that community police be restored, the outcry was hard to ignore.
The Waterbury Neighborhood Council is a coalition of 16 neighborhood associations that have cobbled themselves together to address critical issues facing Waterbury, and cutting neighborhood cops was an unacceptable way to reduce the budget.
The president of the Waterbury Neighborhood Council, Josh Angelus, addresses the gathering.
Josh Angelus, the president of the Waterbury Neighborhood Council, said the Waterbury PD does a tremendous job tackling major crime across the city, and is hopeful that community policing can put a dent in the quality of life issues facing the city’s 37 neighborhoods.
“It’s great to have community policing back,” Angelus said. “Without the presence of a police officer in a neighborhood the anti-social, criminal element feels more free to do their thing.”
Angelus cited a recent string of robberies in the Hillside neighborhood where a small group of men were stealing copper in broad daylight. A Hillside resident took photographs of the suspect’s license plate, shared it with the Waterbury Police Department and arrests were made.
Lt. Stevenson encourages residents to call the police department to report suspicious or criminal activity. He said police work is now data driven, and all the information is loaded into computers to identify hot spots.
“That’s when we put a cop on a dot,” Stevenson said, referring to a criminal hot spot as a dot on a map.
The community police are also launching neighborhood surveys where officers will knock on doors and ask neighborhood residents about their concerns, and leave them a lengthy survey to fill out to help identify further issues.
Sharon Natale, of the Gilmartin Community Club, spoke at a Board of Aldermen meeting in late April and said “community policing was the best thing that residents got in return for their relatively high tax bills.”
Stevenson told the gathering in Elaine Rice’s backyard that the Waterbury PD is now going to take on “loud pipe noise” which is code for excessively loud motorcycles.
“There are going to be a lot of surprised people to hear that we are now going to start issuing tickets for loud pipes,” Stevenson said. “But it is one of the top quality of life complaints we get.”
Josh Angelus was thrilled to hear that the police are going to get serious about loud motorcycle noise, and hopes the crack down includes loud music blaring from cars.
“The music problem comes from a subset of a small group that blares their music,” Angelus said. “It’s not like they are playing songs from the Sound of Music, their lyrics are meant to say F.U., and its offensive.”
Angelus said members of the Waterbury Neighborhood Council meet with the top brass inside the police department every two months and they two organizations have developed "a postive relationship."
"The police are listening to our concerns, and that's important," Angelus said. "If we don't address the quality of life issues no one will want to live in Waterbury."