Some lawmakers are criticizing the consolidation of state trooper barracks and dispatching, but Gov. Dannel P. Malloy insists the mergers are saving money.
Rep. Mae Flexer, a Killingly Democrat, told administration budget chief Benjamin Barnes at a recent hearing that the consolidations are not saving money and could affect public safety.
She said a constituent drove to Troop D in Danielson and found the doors locked. A phone outside the barracks connected him to dispatchers, who told him he'd have to wait 20 minutes for a trooper to arrive, she said.
The consolidation made troops D and K in Colchester and Troop E in Montville substations of Troop C in Tolland. Dispatching for eastern Connecticut is done at Troop C and the other barracks aren't staffed at night.
The dispatch consolidations started last year with three police barracks merging in western Connecticut. State police also combined Troop W at Bradley International Airport into Troop H in Hartford, but the merger was limited by federal airport safety regulations.
Rep. Linda Orange, D-Colchester, an opponent to the mergers, questioned if the consolidations will save money if police fail to respond in time to a crime.
"It won't be pretty if something happens that could have been avoided and there is a lawsuit against the state," she said.
Barnes has said the consolidation will return at least 50 troopers to patrol duty and replace them with lower-paid civilian dispatchers. Change is difficult and should not be halted because of its impact on state employees or others, he said.
"The fact that they are frustrated by them initially should not always be considered as a reason to undo those changes," Barnes said.
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