Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I've been complaining for years about the reckless way that some people drive in Waterbury. I've seen people doing 50 mph through Fulton Park, I've seen people drive 50 mph down my narrow one-way street. Stop signs and red lights are frequently treated as optional. I've been told that it is unreasonable for me to expect the city police to enforce the road laws.

Tonight, some idiot driving an unregistered vehicle tried to do 50 mph down my street. I didn't see what happened, just heard the noise. The driver smashed into a vehicle parked on the side of the road, pushing it a couple of feet sideways onto the sidewalk and forward into the car parked in front of it. There were three cars that wound up being damaged by the speeding car, as each one was pushed forward. I've added some photos below so you can see how bad it was. Bear in mind that this happened only a few hundred feet from Oak Street. How much acceleration do you need to have, how fast do you need to be going in order to cause that much damage?

The jeep wasn't on the sidewalk before it was hit. The rear axle is now bent,
the tires are flat and bent, and the front is smashed in. Two vehicles in front
of it, also parked on the side of the road for the night, are also smashed up.

The car that caused the accident.

The story gets worse. Three people, standing outside their homes, enjoying the nice evening air after a long, hot summer day, were injured. Two were taken to the hospital. These are people who are good neighbors, people who are respectful towards others, people who are willing to help out a neighbor if there's a problem, people who make this a good, friendly neighborhood in which to live.

The driver and his passenger fled the scene, leaving their car blocking the road. The owners of the damaged cars, and the friends of those who were injured, were furious (and rightly so!). People came out of their homes to see what all the commotion was about, trying to find out what happened and whether or not they could do anything to help.

The fire department (currently the city's first responders) arrived first, then an ambulance and finally the police. After everyone had some time to sort things out and take care of the medical emergencies, Patricia Sockwell, acting Vice-President of the Scovill Homes Association, went to talk to one of the police officers about what happened. I followed her and arrived just as she was asking the officer what can be done to prevent this sort of thing from happening. His answer was the most horrifying, unhelpful, counter-productive answer he could give short of saying something flat-out racist.

The police officer insisted that the only way to prevent people from driving recklessly down our streets is to get rid of welfare. He went on further to state that only poor people commit crimes and use drugs, that if you go over to Middlebury and Woodbury, you won't find any drug users, crime or reckless driving (we suggested that people from Middlebury come here to buy their drugs, but the officer ignored that comment). His final solution is that "we need to get rid of all the poor people." He insisted that anyone who wants a job can get one. I (hotheadedly) pointed out that there are currently some 12 million people in this country who want jobs and can't get them because they don't exist. He raised his voice at us, we raised our voices back. A full-force argument over whether or not only poor people do drugs and drive like maniacs.

This was the last thing we needed. Our neighbors and friends had been injured and their property damaged by some jerk who was driving an unregistered car and fled the scene. We asked the police officer for advice on what can be done to make our neighborhood better, and he tells us to get rid of all the poor people, and then goes on to tell us that if we don't have jobs we're just lazy bums. Many of the residents of this neighborhood are senior citizens who worked hard all their lives and now scrape by on social security payments. Many others are working class who scrape by on minimum wage. Others are students, currently scraping by on low income while acquiring the skills and certifications needed to get good jobs. And I know there is at least one person who is collecting partial unemployment because the economy tanked, her employer let everyone go, and she's been able to find only part-time employment so far despite being highly educated and skilled. This neighborhood is a wonderful, diverse community. Being poor doesn't make us bad people. We have our problems, but overall there are a lot of good neighbors here. When we ask for help, we deserve something better than being told that poor people are inherently bad people and the only solution is to get rid of the poor people.


Anonymous said...

I am appalled, disgusted, and completely irate that a police officer would speak to someone in that manner. I assure you that this matter will be investigated immediately and if found to be accurate will be dealt with severely.

Police Chief Michael Gugliotti

Waterbury Girl said...

Thank you Chief Gugliotti. Your response is very heartening. -

Waterbury Girl said...

There is an article on The Observer's website about our community police officers. All of my experiences with them have been great. Which is why I was so shocked when I encountered a profoundly ignorant and prejudiced officer the other night. I am very impressed by the reaction and actions from the police department over the past several days--they are taking the situation very seriously. Overall, the Waterbury Police Department is highly admirable and an asset to the city, and their response reflects well on them.

Anonymous said...

I lived in orange st since I was 11 years old and I think the officer is right. To many people that can work just decided to depend in the government.Go to a local supermarket on the1st, will see where the tax payers money go. Foodstamps for people with bmw with rims.There are jobs even if the economy is bad. Too many people on welfare and using drugs. The are jobs, I know for a fact.Where I work more than 200 illegal imigrants working while all of the people using drugs selling drugs and making our race look bad. Get a job.Thank you officer for speaking the the way I am from PR.