Kohut: Bring Back Block Watches

City resident Jeff Kohut, an active member of a block watch in the Lake Forest area for years, argues in a commentary one solution to stemming the increase in violent crime is resuscitating block watches in neighborhoods.

Regarding homicides of the July 4th weekend in Bridgeport per quotes from BPD in the CT Post and OIB: Chief Perez stated, “The loss of a life and any act of violence is tragic and upsetting for all of us in the community. While these acts may leave cause for concern, the general public should not feel threatened. These are not random acts against residents, they are isolated incidents between individual subjects.”

Isolated incidents or not, they present life-threatening dangers to any persons in the proximity of such incidents–as we know from the Bridgeport legacy of the deaths and serious injuries to bystanders/neighbors and interveners (or perceived, potential interveners) in such incidents (many of recall in recent months and years).

Moreover, such incidents are reflective of societal ills endemic to impoverished urban areas (of which Bridgeport is the poster child) such as Bridgeport and are symptomatic of the failure of the main instrument of societal oversight/intervention in civilized societies–government–to conceive of and enact measures and policies to eradicate the type of poverty and associated conditions/behaviors that incubate and produce such violence.

The City of Bridgeport is on state and federal life support, which cannot be sustained in the context of failing/dysfunctional Connecticut state government and the currently chaotic federal government. This city is failing to acknowledge and implement local measures to stem the continued erosion of essential revenue sources needed to enhance social and public safety services in regard to these conditions. Indeed, a functional city government would be aggressively designing and implementing measures to retain and augment municipal revenue sources in this regard–and this design would include a heavy emphasis on the co-requisite creation of local, living-wage jobs.

The current city administration is failing miserably in this regard–as have all of the municipal administrations of the past 50 years.

Bridgeport residents should be particularly conscious and restive of the state of their city and public safety risks. A responsible city government would be reaching out to the public in a variety to ways to secure the input and cooperation of the public in addressing the root causes of our eroding municipal health and public safety conditions.

What we don’t need is a municipal propaganda machine–aided by the mainstream media–continuing to lull the people into complacency concerning the dangerous state of our city, state and nation. If this sounds alarmist, recall a similar period of a confluence of city, state, and federal shortcomings, re: US cities, in the face of a drug epidemic (e.g., the crack epidemic of the late ’80s-mid-’90s). We now have a situation of an opioid abuse epidemic in the context of severe city, state, and federal government dysfunction/failure in a situation of high unemployment in the context of fabricated government statistics that would indicate otherwise.

The first that Bridgeport should do is reactivate its purposefully derailed block-watch program, which was last a fully-functional priority in the Fabrizi Administration, but which has been suppressed for political reason by the Finch and current administrations.

Enough of downplaying the significance of the rising Bridgeport murder/violent crime rate! And enough of pretending that things are “Getting better every day.”

Enough of BS, feel-good propaganda from all levels of government generated to maintain a miserable status quo in our urban areas (for the nefarious purposes of maintaining feudal social conditions in our region, state, and country).



  1. Jeff,
    I have been trying to develop city statistics relevant to sharing with the public on a regular basis what the comparative stats look like month to month or quarter to quarter over the years. It is only in that way that the public can know whether the current incidents provided by media are a genuine crime spree by an individual or group with a common method of operation or not, or whether the number of certain incidents (for instance involving guns and violence) is merely average though objectionable.

    So far the PD has not cooperated easily. This allows any unlawful behavior to be blown up by any party using social media and a discontented public can be manipulated. What provides a genuine feeling of security or safety to the public? How would you state that in words? How would you track that? Is this something the PD solely is responsible for?

    “Neighborhood watch” activities are good and signage still exists in some parts of the City I believe. Shortage of full police staffing has been the common claim for inability to lead that activity in the past. But it should not be an excuse any more. Perhaps citizens walk away from the voluntary service when the threat is no longer there? Or seems to be gone? What about community policing as a strategy that provides officers who get to know a neighborhood, establish relationships with folks, and are trusted with vital info, not available, necessarily, to other less engaged forms of police assignment? What about a Police Commission that said anything, anytime, anyway of import to citizens? Since review of discipline was removed from their responsibilities, what is their purpose? How do they watch out for their neighbors and taxpayers? Time will tell.

  2. Jeff what good is a block watch if no one comes when you call. The citizens of Bridgeport should be demanding a test for police chief and an a study of PD manning.

  3. John: BPD has historically denied citizens and the media easy access to crime stats. With media local media ranks depleted and concentrated — and refocused on down-county issues — they can’t even monitor police activity independently (per scanner and continual, daily/nightly browsing of police reports) as they did as recently as 5-6 years ago… “Doing It Local” is a one-man operation that tries to cover and keep track of the local stuff, but there is just too much…

    Even with the progressive Sweeney Administration, they didn’t want the citizenry to know just how hard-pressed BPD was to address major crime in the city, and they were slow to release crime stats… I recall that several years ago, Keila Torres of the Post did a piece on East Side crime, and the numbers were absolutely shocking (incredibly high –hundreds more serious crimes during the reporting months than previously released to the public by BPD) when compared with the “feel-good” numbers that had been shared some time previous to that by BPD. That was during the “Better every day… La, la la…” Finch Administration…

    One of the reasons that there is a lack of aggressive City/PD support of the block watch program is because of the citizen crime monitoring, info-sharing, and neighborhood/inter-neighborhood info-sharing and discussion of public safety issues that it would engender… It doesn’t benefit political objectives in distressed towns for citizens to know too much… If they did, they might start asking questions and demanding action, en masse, per Andy’s post…

    And as far as Gary’s post; indeed, history is repeating itself — in a most eerie manner…

    Jim: I’m not sure how to interpret the “book of matches comment”. Does it harken back to the urban-renewal/land-lord “fire-sale” days of the late-80’s and 90’s when Bridgeport property owners who were able to read the tea-leaves made real-estate deals on “burning-hot” Bridgeport real estate with insurance companies and avoided the pain and delay of going through long sales processes and selling “short”?!

    In any event, it behooves Gubernatorial Candidate Ganim to help juice-up the block watch program — a la the Fabrizi Administration — before his pre-election crime stats start to match those of his G1 tenure… That wouldn’t play well for during a gubernatorial run… And it certainly wouldn’t hurt G2 in this regard to get real about economic development/job creation here before that time… Out of town union workers at his rallies won’t help him in the places where he needs the votes and the people see through the staged propaganda events…


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