Sen. Harding: “Is this the ‘new normal’ in CT?”

April 19, 2024

With the spread of “street takeovers,” state lawmakers took steps Wednesday to help local officials regain control of their streets.

The state House of Representatives voted 148-0 with three members absent for the bipartisan measure to control takeovers that have proven to be a headache for mayors, first selectmen and police.

The tools for the towns include allowing municipalities to create ordinances on takeovers, increased penalties for those involved, and allowing forfeiture of certain vehicles that were used illegally. After vehicles are confiscated by the police, the municipalities will be given new authority to destroy dirt bikes, mini-motorcycles, and all-terrain vehicles after holding them for a minimum of 30 days.

State Rep. Charles Ferraro of West Haven said that 2,000 people showed up this week in West Haven, where the police were overwhelmed and required assistance from surrounding communities.
“They plan a beach takeover party,” Ferraro said on the House floor. “There were helicopters there. It was just a massive police effort. … Businesses being looted. … There is just no way to police this. It is a security issue. It’s a quality of life issue. I just think they need to do more.”

Separately, two senators noted the situation in West Haven.

“We must ask: Is this the ‘new normal’ in Connecticut?” asked Senate GOP leader Stephen Harding and Sen. Paul Cicarella, the ranking member on the public safety committee. “Lives disrupted. Resources sapped. Injuries. Shootings. Chaos. What we witnessed in West Haven as well as the countless other incidents we’ve seen in the news over the past year should give everyone pause. What’s to deter future beach takeovers as the weather gets warmer? We must make meaningful reforms to our laws to deter future beach takeovers as well as street takeovers and hold criminals accountable.”