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As reported by the New have Register (CT):

Residents carrying weapons on patrols

William Kaempffer, Register Staff

NEW HAVEN — Tired of what they describe as lip service and hollow promises from the city and Police Department, members of an Orthodox Jewish community and other activists from the Edgewood neighborhood started armed patrols of their own streets Monday night.

"We're not vigilantes. We're not going out looking for trouble. We have to protect what's ours," said Gary Lynes, of Irving Street, who has a pistol permit and will carry his weapon on patrol. So will Rabbi Dov Greer and his brother, Eliezer, both sons of prominent developer Rabbi Daniel Greer.

"It's a very reluctant step. It's an unfortunate step, but we have appealed and appealed and appealed. We have met and met and met," said Rabbi Daniel Greer, who runs the Gan School at 765 Elm St. and nonprofits that in the last two decades have rehabilitated about 40 houses in the area.

It was clear Monday the armed citizen patrols were designed to send an unmistakable message of frustration to City Hall and the mayor. The Greers have appealed to police Chief Francisco Ortiz Jr. for years for increased patrols and walking beats. Every mugging or robbery, Eliezer Greer said, generates a few calls from the city and a cosmetic, and short-lived, increase in police presence.

"Meeting after meeting with the chief and the mayor have accomplished nothing," said Hank Campbell, a Democratic co-chairman for the 24th Ward. "So if you have to bear arms, the Constitution gives us this right. We have to protect what's ours."

Daniel Greer called for Ortiz's ouster, saying he is the Donald Rumsfeld of Mayor John DeStefano Jr.'s administration.

"It's clear the man is not competent," said the elder Greer. "He's a very sweet guy. ... I'd like to have drinks with him. He just can't run a department."

It was an attack Sunday on Dov Greer outside his Elm Street home that triggered the call to action. The younger man wasn't seriously hurt, but the episode appeared to be the tipping point for the Greers.

Through his spokeswoman, DeStefano expressed regret over the attack and said the incident prompted the department to review deployments for that neighborhood. Cops were walking beats at the time of Sunday's incident and Dov Greer chatted with two beat officers not long before the attack, the mayor's office said. The Greers' solution, however, could have disastrous consequences.

"Individuals who carry weapons with the intent of enforcing what they find to be appropriate or inappropriate behavior in their neighborhood is a recipe for disaster," DeStefano said.

He also reaffirmed his "complete confidence" in Ortiz, his command staff, the district manager for the neighborhood and the department as a whole.

State's Attorney Michael Dearington, New Haven County's top prosecutor, said each case would have to be individually evaluated if one of the civilian patrols pulled a gun and threatened someone or actually shot somebody.

"The law applies to them just like anyone else. I do not think they will reduce the amount of violence and it is probable that they will increase the number of shootings," Dearington said.

Ortiz, like DeStefano, said he regretted that the attack on Greer had occurred and echoed his confidence in the district manager and his officers. "I respect these cops and I respect (Greer's) family working with us and we'll continue to work together," Ortiz said.

Democratic mayoral candidate James Newton left his 58th birthday party and went into the Edgewood neighborhood when he heard a newscast about the armed civilian patrols. "I'm concerned about this community and people feeling they have to take the law into their own hands. We need to come in and fix this problem quickly," he said. "I'm very, very concerned about vigilante groups being formed in this city."

Newton said he would begin crafting a letter to Gov. M. Jodi Rell asking her for state police support and oversight in New Haven "to bring a sense of comfort and security in our public safety system."

While the armed citizens patrol is being organized by the Greer family and their followers, they said they hope the patrol will include a wide-range of community members. The elder Greer said he doesn't believe the Orthodox Jewish community is being specifically targeted, but that its a communitywide problem.

At least one person who attended Greer's press conference was caught off guard that these would be armed patrols.

Alderwoman Elizabeth McCormack came in support of the community patrols, saying neighbors on both sides of her Pendleton Street house have been mugged in the last six months, but only learned from a reporter that they would carry guns when she arrived Monday at the Elm Street yeshiva.

Asked if she supported armed patrols, she replied, "I have to think about that. Something has to be done."

The group calls itself the Edgewood Park Defense Patrol and will work in two-person patrols in the area of Norton Street, Whalley Avenue, West Park Street and Edgewood Avenue. Some will be armed. Some won't. The patrols will be from 6 to 10 p.m.

"The EPDP will do what the Police Department has not done. We will provide safety and security in the evening hours for the families and children of the Edgewood Park neighborhood," said Eliezer Greer.

The Greers in the past have accused the Police Department of abandoning community policing and forfeiting the neighborhood to the "gangs of marauding youths," but the idea of armed civilians providing neighborhood security is a new twist.

Daniel Greer was recently in the news when the federal Environmental Protection Agency filed a complaint against three of the housing corporations he runs, charging that he failed to notify 38 tenants in 20 apartments of potential lead paint problems. The case and the proposed $300,000 fine will now be heard by an administrative judge.

The armed patrols met with some incredulous looks from community members.

One woman looked puzzled when a reporter described the plan and replied, "So what are they going to be, like the Black Panthers of the '60s?"

The article can be found at;

- Janq
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