An online petition drive has been started in hopes Norwich will come out of the analog age and replace their antiquated police radios with modern digital ones.
It is unclear at this time who started the petition, or their affiliation to the city, but Channel 3 learned on Monday that this has been an ongoing problem for decades.
One Norwich officer confided he'd rather have a working radio than a gun when on patrol.
The Norwich police radio system is more than 20 years old and has been described as an antiquated analog system supported by transmitter repeaters that can't cover the city. It’s a public safety problem known for decades by the city council.
"It’s a huge cost factor; probably $10 to $12 million,” said City Councilor H. Tucker Braddock.
Braddock is on the public safety committee and said that price tag could cover a new radio system for fire as well as emergency management.
A Norwich police officer said there are a lot of dead spots in the antiquated radio system they have. Occum, the north end of the city, is just one of those spots.
Channel 3 learned another radio dead spot is on the city's west side right along Salem Turnpike.
So what do officers do if they have to call headquarters? They pull out their cell phones and call dispatch.
The lack of radio communication was a problem in January 2013, when then-Officer Jon Ley was shot in a hail of gunfire when he and other officers responded to a man with a gun at the Cedar Glen housing complex.
However, finding and securing state or federal funding to replace an aging radio system could be a difficult job, according to Congressman Joe Courtney.
"We can certainly get the whole delegation to help Norwich through this. The capital drops down the depth charge when budgets are really strained,” Courtney said.
Channel 3 also learned from those assigned to finding resolutions to the radio problem that the police department and other agencies inside and outside the city have been meeting for the past six weeks, trying to identify the critical needs for a new system and how to pay for it.
Copyright 2017 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.