String of complaints puts halt on state police consolidation - CBS 5 - KPHO

String of complaints puts halt on state police consolidation for now

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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

A plan to save taxpayer money could be costing taxpayers a sense of security.

Problems have been plaguing a plan to consolidate Connecticut State Police 911 dispatch centers ever since Eyewitness News looked into the issues in November.

On Tuesday, lawmakers took a closer look at the consolidation and is considering taking action.

State Sen. Tony Guglielmo told Eyewitness News they are working with state police to see if this consolidation plan is actually a good thing.

When people call 911, Scott Owens could be one of the 911 dispatchers who takes the call. When Eyewitness News spoke to him in December, he told the station consolidation was having a major impact on dispatchers who are responding to your emergency call.

"Your eyes are fatigued from looking at the screen. You're not as sharp as you should be. Calls seem to roll into one another," Owens previously said.

Owens is a dispatcher in Troop C in Tolland. He told Eyewitness News that the consolidation resulted in dispatchers being forced to work overtime.

Eyewitness News did some digging and found out Owens isn't alone.

State police said the following:

  • Last August, Troop C had just 74 hours of overtime.
  • In September, when the consolidation started, that number nearly doubled.
  • Then in October, the number jumped to more than 1,700 hours of overtime.
  • By November, it skyrocketed to almost 2,400 hours.

"I've talked to some of the dispatchers," Guglielmo said. "They're working tremendous amounts of overtime. Some of them 90 hours of overtime in a two-week period."

The union representing state police had told Eyewitness News consolidation can also impact how quickly troopers respond to emergencies.

The issue was front and center at the state Senate's public safety committee on Tuesday. They voted on a bill to suspend and evaluate dispatch consolidation.

"Those of us who were concerned about the consolidation wanted to see it slow down and take a second look at it," Guglielmo said.

Right now, state police told Eyewitness News four barracks are being evaluated for consolidation, but no decision has been made to move forward.

Connecticut's new commissioner for the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection is studying the impact.

"Most of the members from of the discussion anyway seem to be perfectly willing to letting the commissioner resolve it and then we would have this vehicle of a bill if we needed it," Guglielmo said.

State police told Eyewitness News it is their policy not to comment on pending law. However, they have told us in the past that consolidation has "never" impacted public safety.

The bill now goes to the floor for a vote possibly next month.

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