The kids hang around -- some on bicycles, some just standing, sometimes in the street, sometimes in cars, most of the time in front of other people's homes.
That gets neighbors nervous, and can prompt calls to police, who then have to get the youths to move on to other areas, where the will often do the same things.
But they're doing nothing wrong, several said Tuesday during a forum on safety in the southern Hamden neighborhood where James Dudley Jr, 22, was gunned down Saturday night.
The next morning a male juvenile was taken into custody and charged with felony murder. He was not from the neighborhood, several at the meeting said, and was not one of those who can be normally seen hanging around.
One man said he lives across the street from where Dudley was shot. If he sees a group of kids gathering, he'll do something about it, he said.
"If I have a problem, I'll go out and talk to them," he said. "If you talk to them, they're human beings and they'll listen."
They're not a gang, many of the youths insisted, and they're not into drugs. They're hanging around like that because they have nothing else to do.
"We'll make you laugh -- we're not bad people," one young man told the standing room only crowd. "This hurts us deeply."
"I can see these young men are hurt and frustrated," said the Rev. Charles Lee of Mount Zion Adventist Church. "They don't have anything to do and they need something to do to engage them."
"We know they need something to do, they have to understand that people don't want them congregating on their property" said another man who identified himself as Dudley's uncle. "Let's get together and do something about it -- what would you like to do? There are more guns on the street taking more of our youths than anything else -- when are they going to learn that guns are not the answer?
"The purpose of a gun is to commit harm to another individual," he said. "You guys have more firepower than the police department.
"Our family is here," he said, "and we are hurting."
In the past, block watches have helped, Lt. Gabe Lupo said.
"At one time there were 1,500 in the town of Hamden," he said. "They were very successful -- they were the eyes and ears of the Hamden Police Department."
And they could be again, he said.
"We need your held," he told the residents. "That's not to say that they are citizen patrols -- we don't want you out there patrolling and confronting people."
But when citizens see something suspicious going down and immediately notify police, that's when they're most effective, Lupo said.
"We don't have the manpower to put an officer on every block," he said.
In the past the department had substations open, but funding for those dried up. But that shouldn't concern residents there because there is more of a police presence in that area than in any other area of town, he said.
"We have more officers stationed here than anywhere else," he said.
There has to be better communication between resident and police, residents and youth, and youth and police, he said.