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Monday, March 21, 2011

Retired police officer's chess crusade against crime

Chess blog for latest chess news and chess trivia (c) Alexandra Kosteniuk, 2011

Hi everyone,

The New Haven Independent has profiled this retired cop who has come up with a unique chess mission!

Stacy Spell is a New Haven police officer - now retired from work but not from doing good in his neighbourhood. He spent Saturday playing chess right in the middle of the square at Derby and Norton across from the Dunkin’ Donuts where two shootings( including one homicide have occurred) since December!

“Once we take ownership, we can address the crime problem,” Spell said. The neighborhood has seen a recent spike in drug-related crime. In December a murder took place at the nearby eatery. In mid-February two people were shot as bullets flew at the same location.

Spell recently became chairman of the West River Neighborhood Services Corporation (WRNSC). He vowed to “take back” the neighborhood, to use the chess terms that he often employs.

“While our crew is out here, [people] are not doing the drug dealing,” he said.

He pointed out the casual manner in which a young man dressed in gray had recently been at work perhaps 20 yards from the chess match in front of Mother’s Restaurant.

“There are two young men practicing their entrepreneurial skills, with the wrong product, in front of us. He did it right in front of me [before]. Now they know I’m watching.

Since he’s a chess lover, Spell has decided on that game as one alternative option for the neighborhood. It’s competitive in a way that may appeal to young men. The pieces are at war, as it were. But it’s safe, a make-believe war.

So Spell plans to be playing in the spring and summer every Saturday. Regularity is key, he said.

“The main thing is modeling,” added Spell, a 27-year police veteran who has lived for three decades in the neighborhood. “I’m trying to mobilize people, not just twice a year [for the cleanups], and I’ll be out here every Saturday. We’re going to occupy the space.”

You can read more here. Call him the chesscop!

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