By all indications the rising tide of crime in Connecticut shows no sign of receding any time soon.
The numbers we’re getting from law enforcement on the ground in our own town are astounding: more cars were stolen in Shelton during a three-month period this year than in all of 2019.
The statewide picture of this trend is equally disturbing.
Crime victims across Connecticut have already made more requests from the victims’ compensation fund than in any previous year on record. The fund pays out expenses for victims to receive grief counseling, help pay medical bills and, in some cases, funeral expenses — a reminder that the constant struggle for many victims doesn’t end, even after they’ve received justice.
On a weekly basis now, residents are confronted with stories in the news of organized retail theft gangs targeting local businesses and box stores, criminals stealing catalytic converters from work trucks and school buses and even more serious crimes, like homicides, being carried out by teens as young as 14.
As your elected state representatives, we’ve been very outspoken about these crimes. Some of us have also been made victims.
We’ve repeatedly joined our fellow Republicans in the House and Senate in advancing sensible public safety proposals to get to the heart of the issue — eliminating delays in the prosecution of serious felonies like sexual assault, allowing ‘theft of a motor vehicle’ to finally be prosecuted as a separate offense and bringing the voices of the victims into juvenile delinquency proceedings for the first time.
These proposals, and more, have been widely available — both originally at www.StopCarThefts.com and later re-published in dozens of articles, editorials and TV news reports — for more than four months. Have your Democratic representatives read them?
We also began circulating copies of a petition at the same time these proposals were issued — to trigger a special session and initiate immediate legislative action on them. Have your Democratic representatives signed it?
Gov. Lamont, who reportedly expressed support for some Republican proposals, wouldn’t lend his support for a special session to implement them.
As the most-powerful elected Democrat in this state, he surely must still have enough influence over his party to bring influential Democratic lawmakers to the table.
Now with those same Democrat legislative leaders currently blocking these reforms at nearly every available opportunity, many Connecticut residents must be asking themselves: Does anyone care?
The reality of the situation could not be clearer: Connecticut has a problem with crime.
The number of homicides in Connecticut increased 31 percent in 2020 according to the FBI, just over the historic 30 percent increase nationwide.
The same FBI report shows car thefts in Connecticut rose 42.5 percent from 2019-20. Nationwide, that increase was only 11.8 percent.
So far, legislative Democrats have given no proposal to reverse this trend and restore our safety. House and Senate Republicans have offered several.
To be in a leadership position and not admonish or even acknowledge criminal behavior is, in fact, no different from endorsing it. Inaction, instead, leads to more serious consequences down the road: death, serious injury and yet more arrests and re-arrests. The cycle continues.
As they say, if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem. We have a problem and we owe it to our constituents and to our law enforcement officers who are on the front lines to come together and find solutions.
State Reps Jason Perillo (R-113th) and Ben McGorty (R-122nd) serve residents of the City of Shelton in the Connecticut General Assembly.