- Associated Press - Sunday, January 24, 2016

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) - Federal law enforcement agencies are working more closely with big-city police departments in Connecticut to fight violent crime, the state’s top U.S. prosecutor said in an interview.

Cooperation has been particularly effective in New Haven, where the police department has begun regularly sharing intelligence, U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly said. Representatives from Daly’s office, federal and state agencies, New Haven police and other local departments huddle together daily in meetings that began this month.

“The idea that these folks would be getting together every day to talk about most recent occurring violence and what connections can we make, and who are the players, and what proactive steps should we take, is from my perspective extremely exciting,” Daly said.

Daly, who has led the office since May 2014, said she hopes to set up similar arrangements in Bridgeport and Hartford.

Homicide rates have been at historical lows in the state’s biggest cities, although violent crime, fueled partly by criminal gangs and the drug trade, remains a persistent challenge. Last year, there were 18 homicides in Bridgeport and 14 in New Haven, while Hartford saw a spike with 31.

Violent crime traditionally has received special attention from federal prosecutors in Connecticut, Daly said, because state prosecutors do not have the benefit of a grand jury system with investigative powers.

The federal grand jury system has been key to solving cold-case homicides in particular, she said. A racketeering investigation of a New Haven gang called the Red Side Guerrilla Brims led to the indictment last year of 12 people charged in seven homicides, most of them dating to 2011.

The intelligence sharing and regular meetings at New Haven police headquarters grew out of Project Longevity, a cross-agency program that encourages at-risk community members to turn away from guns, offering job training and other incentives along with a promise to come down hard on law breakers.

New Haven Police Chief Dean Esserman said it took time to develop the trust for his investigators to share their leads with federal authorities, but the city has benefited from the closer relationship that’s grown over the last few years. Each gun arrest, he said, is now reviewed jointly by state and federal prosecutors to determine which is best positioned to take the case.

Assistant Police Chief Achilles Generoso said the regular meetings keep all agencies updated on developments across the city.

“Everybody involved has agreed to share their information, not to hold back on a crime or a piece of intelligence.”

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