Letter: Shelton alderman candidate calls for unity in battling gun violence

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Below is a Letter to the Editor from this week's Shelton Herald. If you'd like to have a letter to the editor run next week, email letters to brian.gioiele@hearstmediact.com

Contributed photo

To the Editor:

I want to send my condolences to the friends and family of the shooting victim killed here in Shelton’s 3rd Ward last Saturday night. No human being should have to suffer such an unnecessary and tragic loss.

Gun violence should never be accepted or normalized — not here, not in any of our inner cities, not anywhere. This is both a state and nationwide issue that continues to persist despite years of different prevention strategies which have included efforts from both law enforcement agencies and other community partners.

Regarding Shelton in particular, the most pressing question to me is: When criminal incidents occur, how well prepared are we to respond? Shelton is notorious for calling surrounding town departments to provide support and cover when incidents occur. I’ve spoken with many officers who have told me this is simply due to inadequate staffing at the department. In addition to the recent homicide, Shelton, like other towns, has also seen a massive spike in property crimes and car thefts and should be looking for proactive solutions to address this issue. While police officers cannot be expected to be everywhere at every given moment, there is evidence that more police patrols, during targeted hours of the day, can effectively reduce the crime that takes place.

To be clear, having more officers on our police force would most likely not have prevented Saturday’s shooting, or any shooting, realistically. However, we must be sure that if an incident like this takes place that we have enough officers on patrol to respond — not only to that incident, but to other incidents that may be happening simultaneously. In Shelton, our police department serves a population of 43,000 people and currently employs 49 sworn police officers. For comparison, just a town over, the Stratford PD, which serves about 52,000 people, employs 112 sworn police officers. Our Board of Aldermen must seriously consider an outside audit of current PD operations to assess the needs of the department and if we are adequately prepared to respond during times of emergency and crisis.

Finally, we must come together with our surrounding communities to target gun violence as an issue we all need to address. No single town or community can do it alone. There were 21 (fatal) shootings in Bridgeport last year, just 15 minutes down the road from us. I feel many either don’t realize that fact, or choose to ignore it. Additionally, often the crimes happening in Shelton are not even perpetrated by members of the Shelton community themselves. By coming together and forging relationships with community leaders from surrounding towns, we can discuss possible regional solutions to the issues that are impacting us all. Not only must we be No. 1 Shelton when attacking issues, but we must be No. 1 Connecticut on our quest to end gun violence for all.

Matt McGee

Field Director, Envision Shelton

Democratic Candidate for 3rd Ward Alderman