Stamford remains without a homicide in 2017
Updated 8:29 pm, Sunday, December 3, 2017
STAMFORD — The ongoing development boom and demographic shift with an influx of millenials are two obvious signs of change in the city.
But amid the luxury apartments and the bustling downtown scene are signs of progress on the city’s streets.
”Don’t people shoot each other down here anymore?” a criminal defense attorney from Southport asked in the hallway of the Stamford courthouse last week.
After a surge of shootings in 2016, the Stamford Police Department and city leaders have curbed violence this year by getting illegal guns and troubled youth off the streets.
With just weeks remaining in 2017, Stamford is nearing a milestone it hasn’t reached in more than three decades: zero homicides in a calendar year.
Police Chief Jon Fontneau credited the department’s Narcotics and Organized Crime unit for reducing crime on the streets.
“We have a very strong narcotics squad. There are more than a dozen of them and they are on the streets all day long. They are out there working all the time with other agencies and we have a very proactive, young and energetic patrol division,” Fontneau said. “We don’t sit on our heels and wait for something to happen. If people are out on the corners, we are out there mixing with people.”
Capt. Richard Conklin, who supervises the NOC unit, said there have been several factors to reducing violent crime and preventing homicides in the city this year.
Conklin said members of his unit and the patrol division have generated leads that have thwarted drug trafficking and seized weapons on the street. Many of those arrested with guns are believed to have been shooters in other instances, Conklin said.
A Crime & Gun Stoppers initiative, spearheaded in the past year by Mayor David Martin and Sgt. Chris Broems, has led to 30 guns being seized and has prevented at least three people from being shot and possibly killed.
Officials have also credited youth programs — like ones at the Yerwood Center that offer nightly alternatives for teens instead of hanging out on the streets — as an effective method in reducing crime.
”This past year the mayor directed the Office of Public Safety to focus on reducing violent crime,” Ted Jankowski, director of Public Safety, Health & Welfare, wrote in an emailed statement.
“The strategy developed utilized proactive policing by the dedicated men and woman of the Stamford Police Department coupled with improved technology, enhanced community partnerships and collaborations, focused social service outreach and mentoring programs along with plans designed to change the gun culture in the city of Stamford. The use of technology, social service programs and exceptional policing played an important role in reducing homicides.”
The last Stamford homicide occurred 12 months ago when police say Elmer Gomez Ruano strangled to death his estranged wife, Dionicia Bautista-Cano, in a Glenbrook apartment on Nov. 13, 2016.
Gomez Ruano, who police say fled the scene with his young daughter, has been charged with murder and has been remanded to the Northern Correctional Center in Somers in lieu of $900,000 court appearance bond.
The other Stamford homicide last year occurred at an East Side day care where police say Nydia Carrillo-Maldonado killed 2-month-old Bella Redondo in July 2016. Carrillo-Maldonado has been charged with manslaughter and first-degree risk of injury to a minor.
While homicides have continued this year in the state’s largest cities — Danbury (1), Norwalk (3), New Haven (7), Bridgeport (22) and Hartford (24) — through the end of November, Stamford has remained murder free.
Barry Butler, who has been the lead public defender at the Stamford courthouse for nearly 10 years, said factors could include some of the city’s notorious criminals are now behind bars and there has been a lull in gang activity.
“First off, its just good work by the police in trying to keep the majority of guns off the street,” Butler said. “They have made a lot of progress in stopping the flow of illegal guns.”
Stamford State’s Attorney Richard Colangelo said he has been “blessed” to be assigned to the Stamford-Norwalk Judicial District.
”We have great police departments and Stamford police do cutting edge work, which not only involves solving crimes when they occur, but preventing crimes from happening," he said.