Add Ledyard mayor's voice to group wanting to keep emergency dispatch center in town

Ledyard - Mayor John Rodolico echoed the endorsement of the Public Safety Commission to keep the Ledyard Emergency Communications Center in town at the Town Council meeting Wednesday night, with some caveats.

Rodolico made his recommendation to councilors Wednesday to keep dispatch in Ledyard under the control of the Ledyard Police Department, saying it allows for the potential to add other towns and service districts for a future regionalized center, and that a home-based dispatch will be required to support the creation of an independent police department.

Moving forward, the Public Safety Commission and the Town Council Community Services Committee will work to secure towns with potential to join the Ledyard Emergency Communications Center, and Rodolico will work with the dispatch management and town unions to make changes to schedules and staffing to better suit the town's needs and plans for the future.

Rodolico said the current schedules and staffing work for now, but would not hold up in efforts to bring towns in for a regional center or create an independent department. The police department now enlists a resident state trooper.

Rodolico said he has asked for recommendations for alternative staffing. The dispatch center currently does not employ two dispatchers per shift - a requirement Rodolico had presented to other towns while researching the possibility of outsourcing the department.

"We need to certainly have a more uniform and consistent staffing than we have now," he said.

And while the outsourcing option that dispatchers and their supporters have spoken out against for months appears to be off the table for now, Rodolico said in the event that the town does not regionalize or adopt an independent police force, contracting communications services out to another regional center could become an option again down the road.

"It's still a concern whether we can attract another town or towns," he said.

Rodolico said the only towns available are small towns already aligned with other dispatch areas, such as Voluntown, whose contract with Quinebaug Valley expires at the end of the year. Even if one or more comes on board, he said, it's possible that this will not satisfy a potential state mandate for regionalization.

"We still run the risk that even if we do that, we're still not facing the same decision down the line," he said.

The dispatch center comprises six full-time and eight part-time staffers. The debate came to a head in recent months when options for outsourcing to Groton or Montville were presented, which were met with consternation from dispatchers and other emergency services personnel at several Public Safety Commission meetings.

a.isaacs@theday.com

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