Lawmakers look to crack down on dangerous 'street takeovers'

On Thursday, police urged them to support a new bill that could send some offenders to jail for three years.

John Craven

Mar 7, 2024, 10:21 PM

Updated 37 days ago


Connecticut lawmakers are looking to crack down on "street takeovers" – illegal car meet-ups that have caused chaos across the state.
On Thursday, police urged them to support a new bill that could send some offenders to jail for three years.
Street takeovers can draw hundreds of young people crowding onto public streets – blocking traffic, vandalizing other cars and even setting off fireworks.
"They've come very close to cars," one driver told News 12 Connecticut. "They weave in and out of cars."
Street takeovers have happened in Norwalk, Derby, Shelton, West Haven and several other towns. In Milford, a responding police officer even went to the hospital.
"People surrounding the car, assaulting the officer," Milford Police Officer Brianna MacDonald said in December.
Many times, the events are openly advertised on social media.
"It's advertised – sometimes closed and sometimes very publicly – through TikTok, Instagram, Facebook," said state Sen. Herron Gaston (D-Bridgeport).
Despite intensive police efforts, street takeovers keep happening. In most cases, offenders can only face minor noise violations.
"I think there just has to be harsher penalties," said Kim-Marie Mullin, of West Haven.
A new bill would let municipalities specifically ban street takeovers. Repeated offenses could mean a $2,000 fine, permanently losing your driver's license and even up to three years in jail. It would be easier to seize dirt bikes and destroy them. Towns could also get money to beef-up enforcement.
"Street takeovers are closing our public roads and preventing our ambulance, fire and other emergency from getting where they need to go in a true emergency," state Rep. Kathy Kennedy (R-Milford) told the Legislature's Public Safety and Security Committee.
Some said the bill needs to go even further. Organizing or advertising an illegal street gathering is already illegal, but some said it should be elevated to a felony.
"The question is, are there going to be any ramifications for people who might aid and abet this kind of activity, by posting it on their social media?" asked Gaston.
The committee has until March 19 to approve the street takeover bill. Then it would have to pass both the House and Senate before the 2024 legislative session ends on May 7.

More from News 12