The Police Department announced Wednesday it is partnering with the office of the U.S Attorney for Connecticut and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives through the federal Project Safe Neighborhoods program.
At an afternoon news conference in Police Headquarters, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dave Vatti, the coordinator of Project Safe Neighborhoods in Connecticut, said all Norwalk arrests that include seizing a firearm will be reviewed to determine whether a case should be prosecuted in state or federal court.
Vattii said a “worst of the worst” list will also be created identifying the most significant violent offenders in Norwalk.
Case reviews will occur at monthly meetings attended by the assistant U.S. attorney assigned to Norwalk, Vanessa Richards, a representative of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, a Norwalk detective assigned as a fulltime ATF task force officer, and the senior assistant state’s attorney in Norwalk, Suzanne Vieux.
Vatti said PSN also has a preventive component where assistant U.S. attorneys meet with members of the Dept. of Adult Probation and offenders who are on probation. He said the offenders are advised of the penalties that can be imposed in federal court for gun crimes, and are offered the opportunity to meet with service providers who can help with employment, drug treatment and other counseling efforts that will steer them toward rehabilitation.
Police Chief Thomas Kulhawik said his department has had an excellent relationship with the FBI, the ATF, the DEA, U.S. marshalls and the U.S Attorney’s office for many years. He said the department keeps expanding and enhancing its relationships with federal agencies, and participating in PSN “is just another step to provide greater services to the community.”
Vatti said the program is already established in Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven and Stamford. He said a less formal relationship exists with the New London and New Britain police departments.
Kulhawik said the officer he’s assigned to the task force is a member of the department’s Special Services unit. He said joining PSN will not be an added cost to the city.
Mayor Richard A. Moccia said PSN “has the dual benefit of helping us take criminals off the street and making it safer while not impacting our local budget, so the taxpayers are getting a lot of bang for the buck on this one, both at the federal, state and local levels.”