To better prevent gun violence, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal believes knowledge is an important tool.

Blumenthal spoke at the University of New Haven's Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences to announce that, with Sen. Chris Murphy, he procured $1 million in congressionally directed spending to support data analytics efforts at the school to prevent gun violence.

"We have plenty of rhetoric" about stopping gun violence, Blumenthal, D-Conn., said. "We need facts and data."

Lee College Dean Mario Thomas Gabourey said the data analytics program is a student-run organization and the funding will support additional work study positions so gun violence data can be analyzed and provided to the New Haven Police Department. Lisa Dadio, assistant Lee School dean and a retired New Haven police lieutenant, said the data that would be collected and analyzed would be things such as determining areas where gun or other violence is more prevalent. 

Officers "going into a home for domestic violence deserve to know what dangers are facing them," Blumenthal said.

The city of New Haven, which has operated its own police-led community data-sharing operation called CompStat for years, has seen a recent uptick in gun violence with six homicides so far this year. Mayor Justin Elicker and Police Chief Karl Jacobson have discussed a multi-pronged approach to addressing gun violence, including DNA testing machines and more cameras. Elicker has also discussed a citywide initiative to open citywide youth recreation centers to use social services as a deterrent

Assistant New Haven Police Chief Bertram Etienne said there's "not one answer" to gun violence, but data will be useful to the department in determining how to allocate its staffing and other resources to addressing the issue.

Elicker did not immediately return a request for comment Tuesday.

Blumenthal said the data would be used for community intervention purposes, such as giving police officers information about opportunities to prevent violence before it happens, and  also would support trauma-informed training for officers. The Lee School will partner with the UNH School of Health Sciences. Betsy Francis-Connolly, dean of the School of Health Sciences, said gun violence is a public health issue.

"This will be a great opportunity for us and we'll have better opportunities to intervene," she said.

Lorenzo Boyd, an endowed professor at UNH in community policing, said the purpose of using data is to be proactive and to take a "holistic approach" to policing. 

When asked about the potential surveillance implications of collecting and sharing crime data, Blumenthal said there are "no cameras in people's homes" and it is not "a Big Brother surveillance type of program." 

Boyd said the program is "the opposite" of surveillance, by giving police the tools they need to better address the public safety needs in their community and to strengthen community-police relationships so there's more comfort and communication.