Connecticut is one of the smallest states in the United States but has the highest number of cities (tied with Ohio) that made it onto our list of the 25 Most Dangerous Cities in America.
Three cities in the small New England state — Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford — were ranked among the most dangerous in the country. Connecticut, like other states in the Northeast, has a growing gang problem that could be contributing to violent crime.
Gangs are no longer a problem associated with big cities alone. Since the 1990s, their prevalence has been growing in smaller cities and suburban areas. FBI data shows that since 2009, gang membership increased most significantly in the Northeast and Southeast regions of the country.
Bridgeport is especially dangerous. The state’s most populous city had 15 murders per 100,000 people in 2012 after a rash of gun violence. Residents interviewed by the Connecticut Post admitted that “something has to be done” about gangs in the city. At least 15 sets of gangs operate in Bridgeport, according to the newspaper.
While gangs in Bridgeport are primarily neighbourhood-based and focus more on robberies than drugs, gangs in Hartford are more into drug trafficking. An internal police memo from 2009 discussed the “gang infestation” that has been plaguing Hartford, noting that “recruitment is at an all-time high.”
New Haven also has a known gang problem. City authorities have been meeting with gang members in an attempt to persuade them to stop the violence, the Associated Press reported last month.
It’s not clear why gangs thrive in Connecticut, but research has shown crime is more prevalent in areas with high income gaps. And Connecticut has the starkest contrast between the rich and the poor, according to Census data analysed by Bloomberg.
All three Connecticut cities that made the most dangerous list are now adopting a program that has proven successful to reduce gang violence in cities such as Chicago and Cincinnati. That program, called Project Longevity, recruits law enforcement and social workers to “engage in a sustained relationship with violent groups.”
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