Project Longevity must be funded

We are a lit­tle puz­zled about the ap­par­ent dis­rup­tion of Project Longevity due to a lack of fund­ing.

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - FRONT PAGE -

Lack of fund­ing con­ceiv­ably could cause a lot of dam­age to those on the path to re­vers­ing their lives.

We were un­der the im­pres­sion that the state had stopped play­ing “Ring Around the Rosie” with crime and vi­o­lence and were on a path to re­duce gang vi­o­lence.

It’s not look­ing good from this end. The lack of fund­ing has left work­ers un­paid for weeks and con­ceiv­ably could cause a lot of dam­age to those on the path to re­vers­ing their lives.

When the pro­gram was rolled out un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion of the U.S. De­part­ment of Jus­tice, it was her­alded as a game-changer and by all ac­counts lived up to the hype.

Over the last sev­eral years, of­fi­cials from Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy to his top guy in law en­force­ment and law­mak­ers from around the coun­try and parts of the world have ap­plauded its ef­fec­tive­ness.

Ac­cord­ing to a study by Yale re­searchers pub­lished in the jour­nal Crime and Delin­quency, Project Longevity “led to a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in gang-re­lated vi­o­lent crime in the city.”

In­deed, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp touted the pro­gram’s role in the city’s win­ning ef­fort to re­duce crime. The New Haven Po­lice De­part­ment re­cently wel­comed po­lice of­fi­cials from Hon­duras who are con­sid­er­ing launch­ing the pro­gram in their coun­try.

So, how can fund­ing dry up for a pro­gram so im­por­tant that it in­spired end­less meet­ings, ed­i­to­rial boards, ed­i­to­ri­als, front page head­lines — and is touted by law en­force­ment as ef­fec­tive? We are won­der­ing, too. As Con­necti­cut U.S. At­tor­ney Deirdre Daly said, “This is not tra­di­tional law en­force­ment work.”

Daily in­tel meet­ings are held in New Haven in which the heads of po­lice and state and fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors join lead­ers of the lo­cal Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion of­fice, the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion, and Bureau of Al­co­hol, To­bacco, Firearms and Ex­plo­sives, among other agen­cies, to dis­cuss the last 24 hours of crime in the city.

Many times, this col­lab­o­ra­tion has pro­vided law en­force­ment of­fi­cials with crit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion to make swift ar­rests — such as the ar­rests of sus­pected drug deal­ers made within 48 hours of a rash of 14 over­doses in the city from what turned out to be fen­tanyl be­ing sold as co­caine.

So, the pro­gram is use­ful and pays div­i­dends by not only help­ing to re­duce crime, but sav­ing lives.

But this isn’t the first time peo­ple have left the pro­gram due to the state’s in­abil­ity to meet pay­roll.

The Rev. Wil­liam Mathis re­signed from his role as New Haven co­or­di­na­tor for the anti-gang vi­o­lence ini­tia­tive, cit­ing too many oc­ca­sions when he wasn’t get­ting paid. Ac­cord­ing to Mathis, months would go by be­fore he re­ceived a check.

You can’t re­duce crime or gang vi­o­lence with­out the nec­es­sary fi­nan­cial re­sources.

This pro­gram is too im­por­tant to too many peo­ple on too many lev­els for it to fall through the bud­get gap.

Con­necti­cut must re­store ap­pro­pri­ate fund­ing to Project Longevity.

“Many times, this col­lab­o­ra­tion has pro­vided law en­force­ment of­fi­cials with crit­i­cal in­for­ma­tion to make swift ar­rests — such as the ar­rests of sus­pected drug deal­ers made within 48 hours of a rash of 14 over­doses in the city from what turned out to be fen­tanyl be­ing sold as co­caine.

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