HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) – The Connecticut State Police received some 1.5 million phone calls last year but just 40 percent of them were 911 emergencies. The majority, 60 percent, were non-emergencies and now those calls are being redirected to the local barracks.
Tracy Gordon Fox is a mom who works as an emergency room nurse. She rallied 300 of her neighbors to sign a petition aimed at rolling back the consolidation of dispatch and other state police services in Eastern Connecticut.
“People said that they would call 911, there was a long response time and we weren’t used to that out here,” Fox said. “We’re used to the local troopers knowing where we live, knowing the area.”
After rolling back part of the consolidation just four weeks ago by staffing all the local barracks 24/7, the new head of the state police rolled it back further today, directing that all, non-emergency calls be directed back to the local barracks.
“I think like any plan, no matter how well thought out, it doesn’t necessarily work as intended,” said Dora Shriro, commissioner of the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
The new commissioner Wednesday also flatly denied that these reversals are aimed at heading off a bill making its way through the legislature that would suspend the consolidation and require public input before similar changes are made.
“Absolutely not,” she said. “This is a well reasoned and well researched strategy.”
The move means that 911 calls would continue to be handled at central locations, although Shriro said that too will continue to be studied.
“We rely on the state police in this area for safety,” Fox said. “When I moved to Colchester, I remember thinking, ‘this is great, we have a police barracks in town, open 24/7,’ and you feel safe about that.”
Fox and others are still concerned that distant dispatchers are unfamiliar with these rural parts of the state.
The commissioner says the new plan will start in two barracks Wednesday night and be implemented in all baracks by the end of the summer as the entire consolidation remains under study.