KILLINGLY, Conn. (AP) - A police assault on domestic violence and drug use may be helping to improve the quality of life in areas of eastern Connecticut.
Eight troopers who moved into new Danielson barracks six months ago - focusing on crimes such as sexual assaults, domestic violence and drug use - have made 87 arrests, including five major drug raids.
The troopers formally opened the doors of a satellite office in Danielson Monday, featuring a children's health day that included the distribution of bicycles and toys and pamphlets on free health insurance and immunizations.
A room also was made available for private meetings with a sexual assault counselor.
The counselors at the Women's Center of Northeastern Connecticut represent a new commitment by state police and other agencies.
Wendy Moher, executive director of the women's center, said the shift in attention to sex and assault cases has "helped immensely."
"I've seen a drastic difference in the way victims are handled," she said. "We have a coordinated response."
Handling of reports of sexual assault have tripled, largely because more referrals are made by police and from within the community.
Sgt. Michael Spellman, who supervises the task force of troopers in Danielson and Brooklyn, said assaults may be declining because troopers on foot patrol are discouraging drinking and drug use. Halting drinking and rowdy behavior has placed fewer young women at risk, he said.
Counselors from the women's center and police also have been invited to speak in area schools about sexual assault and how to avoid becoming a victim or aggressor.
Michele Rioux of Danielson brought her children to the satellite office Monday for balloons, free pens and toys.
"I think it's fantastic, especially this lady who does the women's center," she said.
Rioux said she has noticed a change in Danielson since the addition of the troopers.
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"Up until last year, I was afraid to drive downtown without having my doors locked," she said. "Now, you drive downtown and you don't see the people hanging out anymore."