CAUGHT ON CAMERA: Push for crime reform after 5 teens steal car, lead police on wild chase in East Haven

Published: Mar. 22, 2023 at 11:14 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 23, 2023 at 6:33 AM EDT
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EAST HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - What was described as a dangerous police chase in East Haven renewed calls for juvenile crime reform.

Five teens face charges for stealing a car and crashing it into several police cruisers on Wednesday morning.

Around 8:30 a.m., an East Haven police officer noticed a stolen Hyundai filled with teens that was headed down North High Street.

Dashcam video showed the moment when an East Haven officer tried to catch up with a red Hyundai.

Dashcam footage shows East Haven police chase stolen vehicle. Five juveniles were later arrested.

Police said there were five teens in the vehicle between the ages of 14 and 15. They also said the vehicle was reported stolen from New Haven.

When the teens realized they ran out of road, police said they turned around.

They tried to force the police officer’s cruiser out of the way.

They then drove into several other police cruisers before they were surrounded by the tennis courts outside Joseph Melillo Middle School.

The teens face several charges, including larceny of a motor vehicle, conspiracy to commit larceny, and burglary.

The driver also faces three charges of assault on police for hitting the cruisers.

Police said it was fortunate no one was hurt, because it happened around arrival time for Joseph Melillo Middle School and East Haven Academy. Children were getting dropped off at the time. The schools were briefly in lockdown as a precaution.

A new juvenile crime bill passed in Connecticut last year that gave police more access to juvenile records.

The bill also allowed judges to require GPS monitoring devices for juvenile offenders.

After seeing the dashcam video, a representative from Safe Streets Connecticut said he believes more needs to be done.

“I saw the video and I was disturbed, ”said John Porriello, spokesman for Safe Streets Connecticut.

Channel 3′s law enforcement expert, retired state police Lt. J. Paul Vance, said the officers involved did everything they were trained to do to stop the suspects safely so no one got hurt.

“They got them out of this dangerous situation,” Vance said. “Certainly, a stolen car or assault on a police officer. They’re looking at very serious charges. Charges that they’re going to have to answer for either in juvenile court or even superior court.”

“Maybe criminalizing them and penalizing them really isn’t the solution, but finding ways to address their needs and finding out what they need from their perspective,” suggested Katy Maldonado of New Haven.

“It’s a miracle that no one got killed today. It’s a miracle. And how many times do we have to count on miracles instead of responsible actions by juveniles,” Porriello added.

Porriello suggested that if people want something done, they should write to state leaders and urged them to change laws to keep the streets safe.

Police have also said that they are actively recruiting. An application is available here. In the City of Hartford, and people have until the end of this month to apply.