MONROE, CT — Less than a month after House Republicans took to the steps of the State Capitol to call for action to address rising juvenile crime in the Constitution State, a new policy change announced Wednesday could help local and state law enforcement responding to recent car thefts and other crimes committed by juveniles.
But State Rep. Tony Scott, R-Monroe, says the change — which now gives police access to a juvenile’s full criminal record at the time of their arrest — was just a minor fix among a litany of proposed reforms introduced by himself and fellow Republicans after a bystander was fatally run down by the teen driver of a stolen car in New Britain.
Scott said the new procedure is only employed as part of a detainer application that’s in-process and does not give police additional information at the point of arrest or make an informed decision about whether they should make a custodial arrest or release the juvenile on a promise to appear in court. It also does not supply police with information they could use to decide whether they should pursue a request to detain in the first place.
“This was a relatively minor change in my mind, allowing police, judges and prosecutors to all have the same fact set in front of them when making the decision of whether or not to pursue a detention order against a juvenile defendant that has already been arrested once, two times, multiple times prior,” Scott said. “And yet it took nearly a month for that change to go into effect. In the meantime, we’re still seeing more reports of stolen cars with bystanders or even children inside — not fewer. It’s not acceptable to confront this real public safety issue only bit by bit when people are still being victimized across our state.”
Scott said the governor and Democratic legislative leaders are reportedly reluctant to support over a dozen reforms written by House Republicans in consultation with law enforcement across the state, adding residents of Monroe are still being targeted — including one couple who reported both their cars were stolen on Wednesday night from their driveway.
Scott says he agrees with the importance of residents locking their car doors to deter theft, but also fears it may result in escalations. He points to recent carjackings in the Hartford-area suburbs of West Hartford and Rocky Hill, where one woman was forced to abandon her car at gunpoint as she dropped off mail at the post office.
Scott encourages residents to remain vigilant and says more needs to be done to keep people safe. Residents can view the House Republicans juvenile crime proposals and share their opinion at:www.StopCarThefts.com.