Two police officers were taken to the hospital and two police cars are damaged after a pursuit involving a stolen car in East Hartford on Tuesday night and officers said they have arrested a 15-year-old boy while they continue searching for two other suspects.
An officer saw a stolen vehicle in the area of Park Street sometime around 10 p.m., police said.
Shortly after, authorities said, the driver of the vehicle crashed into the police car and took off. A second officer engaged the vehicle in pursuit, but later broke it off, they said.
Later, the stolen vehicle returned to Park Street and a third officer saw the vehicle pull behind a warehouse, police said. There, the driver of the stolen vehicle drove into the police car head-on and injured the police officer inside, they added.
The injured officer chased the three suspects who were in the stolen car as they took off running, according to police.
Another officer saw one of the suspects run behind the back of the warehouse and that suspect ran around the building and stole the officer's police cruiser, authorities said.
While trying to get away, the suspect backed the police car into a pole and knocked it down before fleeing on foot again, officials said. The pole needs to be repaired.
K9 officers were brought in and were used to find that suspect. He is identified as a 15-year-old young man and was arrested, police said.
He and two officers were taken to the hospital to be treated for injuries, police said. All three have been treated and released.
Investigators said they are still looking for the other two people who originally ran from the stolen vehicle.
This pursuit in East Hartford is another example of why legislators are pushing for harsher punishments for juveniles who steal cars. State Representative Kerry Wood said what started as crimes of opportunity are now escalating.
“Windows are getting smashed, in Rocky Hill. We had four carjackings at gunpoint. This is not just stealing cars anymore,” said Wood, a Democrat representing Rocky Hill, part of Newington and Wethersfield. “It’s really needed now. We don’t want to see people getting hurt, we don’t want to see people getting killed, we don’t want this escalating and the goal is to work together to get on top of it before it does get worse.”
Wood introduced a bill to strengthen the punishment for repeat offenders in an effort to curb this type of crime. The public got their first chance to weigh in on it during a hearing before the judiciary committee last week.
One suggestion was to get juveniles processed sooner rather than being given a promise to appear and not seeing a judge for a month. Another idea was to fit repeat offenders with an ankle bracelet.
“We got some feedback on how that was not working currently so I think there’s a lot of room to tweak the bill, but this was a vehicle for us to get it out there, have the testimony, hear from the public, hear from law enforcement, hear from legislators and also hear from the juvenile just system,” Wood said.
Wood also suggests giving law enforcement the tools they need, like license plate readers and surveillance cameras at busy intersections, to help them catch the offenders.
Legislators in the committee are still reviewing the bill.