Montville - An issue that the town has been considering for years is back on the agenda for tonight's town council meeting: the formation of an independent police force.
The agenda for the 7 p.m. meeting in Town Hall includes a discussion of the formation of an ad hoc committee that would research the viability of creating an independent police force. This means the town's 21-person police force would no longer be overseen by a resident state trooper but by a professional police administrator.
The move toward an independent police force is recommended by the September 2012 Public Safety Plan, a report that the town commissioned from Almont Associates. That report says that "the Town of Montville is by far the largest community in Connecticut using the resident state trooper program."
That report concluded that the town should move to a municipal police department over the course of a few years and that it should hire a professional police administrator to manage the force. The town's charter currently states that the mayor should serve as police chief, but the report cites "concerns with a community this large having the mayor as chief elected official, human resource director, chief contract negotiator and police chief."
The town considered switching to an independent police force about eight years ago, said Public Safety Commission Vice Chairman Tom McNally, but decided that it would be too expensive. At the time, he said, the need for a lock-up facility and new dispatchers drove up the cost.
The town's new Public Safety Complex, which was completed in January, has a dispatch center and a lock-up facility, so those two costs are no longer an issue, explained McNally.
There would be other costs, he said, such as paying a police chief and food for overnight prisoners, and it will be the job of the ad hoc committee to explore those.
The Public Safety Commission decided at its Aug. 29 meeting to recommend to the town council that the ad hoc committee should include two public safety members, three public safety commission members, two town councilors and two alternate members.