Lawmakers look at having smaller towns share 911 dispatch servic - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lawmakers look at having smaller towns share 911 dispatch services

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(MGN photo) (MGN photo)
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

Connecticut lawmakers are once again looking at ways to regionalize to save money.

A bill now being considered would require some of the state’s smaller towns to share 911 dispatch services with others, but it isn’t a new idea.

Connecticut State Police tried it, and it failed.

Connecticut has 169 towns and cities, and pretty much all of them have their own 911 systems.

State Rep. J.P. Sredinzki manages a 911 system for Stratford, and said he supports efforts to consolidate, but has some concerns about what may be a short time frame.

"We have until 2018 to decide whether the town will stay by itself or pay the penalties and fees, or if the town will consolidate and with who, and how the operation is going to take place,” Sredinzki said.

This bill only applies to cities and towns with less than 40,000 people, or fewer than 12,000 911 calls per year.

They would have two years to consolidate, and if they don’t, they would be penalized and would have to pay for their own equipment.

"We have to look at services,” said Berlin Police Chief Paul Fitzgerald. “We have gotten spoiled with services. In Berlin, we provide services to seniors and they appreciate that."

However, the bill only applies to incoming 911 calls and not other police services.

Four years ago, Connecticut State Police began merging troops together to consolidate 911 services, but several dispatchers complained there were not enough to handle the call volume.

The new system was scrapped and all 911 centers were restored.

The house speaker, and others who support the bill, said police departments already have their own 911 systems and that we need to stop duplicating costs and maintain a system taxpayers can sustain.

"It’s the home rule. People get used to what they have, and what they don't have they are not sure of,” said State Rep. Steve Dargan.

Connecticut has less than half of the population of New York City, yet there are at least 100 911 call centers.

Those who support the bill said it will eventually be more efficient and will save money.

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