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    Wednesday, August 17, 2022

    Pawcatuck crime has Haberek worried

    Stonington - First Selectman Ed Haberek is proposing that town and police officials hold a forum on what he says is an increasing amount of crime in downtown Pawcatuck.

    Haberek said Thursday that he's been receiving calls from residents, including the family of an elderly woman whose home was broken into while she was home at night, who are upset about crime, illegal drugs and even possible prostitution and want something done.

    "It's affecting business owners and neighbors. I think it's getting worse," he said.

    Haberek said he looks forward to aggressively addressing the issue with a multi-pronged approach that will include the Board of Police Commissioners, the police department, Building Official Wayne Greene and Fire Marshal Kevin Burns.

    The latter two have recently condemned a few downtown apartments. Haberek said evidence of drug use, including syringes, was found in one illegal apartment, while a man wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet was living in another.

    Haberek said the town has spent taxpayers' money to improve the downtown with the streetscape and other projects while trying to create a family-friendly atmosphere with events such as the recent Donahue Park summer concert series and the River Glow event Saturday.

    '"Now we need to eliminate the criminal activity," he said. "People are fed up."

    Haberek said two downtown properties are particularly responsible for the increased crime, referring to the Elm Tree Inn and the Riverwalk condominiums.

    "We're trying to do things to change the culture down there, but it will take some aggressive enforcement as well," he said.

    Police Chief J. Darren Stewart said Thursday that crime ebbs and flows in the downtown area and sometimes increases in the summer when more people are outside.

    "We have a police presence downtown, we address any issues that come up, and we work with residents and businesses on a regular basis when they do have an issue," he said.

    He added that his department will continue to work with members of the downtown community when they have a problem.

    Haberek originally wanted to hold a public forum later this month so residents could express their concerns to town and police officials.

    But in an email to Haberek, Board of Police Commissioners Chairwoman Susette Tibus told Haberek that the meeting of her board is the appropriate venue for the comments so all of her members, who manage police resources, can offer input. In addition, she said her board could not conduct business outside of that venue.

    Haberek said he is trying to set up a joint meeting between the Board of Selectmen and the Board of Police Commissioners at the next regular meeting of the police commissioners Sept. 8. Haberek said residents will be able to comment at that time.

    j.wojtas@theday.com

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