Sen. Kelly, CT Republicans call for crime reforms

March 2, 2023

Sen. Kelly, Connecticut Republicans call for crime reforms as traffic deaths soar and enforcement falls

(Hartford Courant)

Prompted by the most traffic fatalities in Connecticut history, Republicans called Wednesday for a series of proposals to crack down on crime.
Republicans said reforms are needed on domestic violence, juvenile offenses, bail, and the controversial police accountability act that was signed into law more than two years ago.

Rep. Greg Howard, a legislator who also works as a detective for the Stonington police department, said that morale has never been lower among police. The poor morale, he said, has led to a lack of police enforcement. As a result, overall traffic stops are down 40% statewide and also down about 65% by state troopers who patrol the highways, he said, citing state statistics.

Lawmakers say the traffic fatalities have been staggering as more than 300 people died on the state roadways last year. That included 231 drivers and passengers in multiple accidents, along with 75 pedestrians who had been walking or riding a bicycle when hit by a vehicle.

Another major problem is wrong-way collisions that killed 23 people in 2022 in 13 different accidents.

Lawmakers were already focusing on the problem, but they said they would redouble their efforts after the sudden death of state Rep. Quentin “Q” Williams of Middletown in a wrong-way crash on Route 9 in Cromwell as he was driving home in early January after Gov. Ned Lamont’s inaugural ball.

In another proposal Wednesday, Republicans said the legislature should increase the penalty for murders committed in domestic violence incidents to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But the legislature voted to end the death penalty and has been reducing — rather than increasing — penalties in recent years.

Senate Republican leader Kevin Kelly of Stratford said that reducing crime does not solve all of society’s problems.

“Justice reforms and opportunity must go hand in hand,” Kelly said. “You cannot address one without the other. A safer Connecticut starts with an economy that can support jobs and housing, build hope, and create a path to success for young people. It starts with proactive policing, appropriate consequences for high-risk repeat offenders, and ensuring our justice system has the tools to successfully rehabilitate.”

A series of public hearings will be held in the coming weeks, including one Monday on the governor’s gun safety proposals and another on bail reform on March 15.

Connecticut Republicans call for crime reforms as traffic deaths soar and enforcement falls