Hartford Residents Form Armed Patrol To Combat Crime

A group of Hartford, Connecticut residents has taken an unusual approach to combat violent crime in their neighborhood. Known as the “Self-Defense Brigade,” this group of about 40 armed volunteers patrols Hartford’s North End, especially during nights and weekends. The initiative, started by Cornell Lewis, also employs drones and home surveillance cameras to monitor the area.

Lewis commented on the initiative, stating, “The Democratic machine in Hartford is either unwilling or unable, incapable of doing it, and people are paying their tax dollars, and they’re not really getting any kind of service.” This community-led effort has faced pushback from Hartford’s Democratic Mayor Arunan Arulampalam, who worries about the potential for vigilante justice. Arulampalam emphasized, “Our community has seen so much pain and trauma, and what we need is for those who love this city to do the hard work of healing that pain, not walk around our streets with guns trying to take the law into their own hands.”

Lewis insists that the brigade members are not vigilantes and are trained in legal security. Each volunteer holds a legal permit to carry concealed weapons. The group began its patrols after a shooting in February left two men dead near the Walk in the Light Church of God, prompting Archbishop Dexter Burke to support the initiative.

Burke stated, “I feel that we are really putting a dent on crime. I think that we’ve exceeded 100% in terms of success.” He believes that involving community members in the patrols helps counteract the anti-snitch culture that can hinder crime prevention in Black neighborhoods.

The idea of expanding the patrols to other areas has garnered interest, but New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker strongly opposes armed patrols in his city. Elicker stated, “It’s a bad idea, and it’s not welcome. We need fewer guns on our street, not more.”

Despite the opposition, both Burke and Lewis believe their efforts are effective and plan to continue. Burke remarked, “Praying alone will never fix it. We can pray all day, but it’s just some stuff we need to do.”

This armed citizen patrol represents a significant shift in how some communities are choosing to address violent crime, reflecting a deep frustration with the perceived inadequacy of local law enforcement.