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While there will be problems to work out, the decision to consolidate state police dispatching into fewer emergency centers was a good one. That process continued with the recent opening of the regional dispatch center at the Troop C barracks in Tolland. The new facility combines dispatch services that had been spread among barracks in Tolland, Montville, Danielson and Colchester.
With the need to upgrade equipment, it makes sense to concentrate that new technology in fewer centers covering larger areas. There is no reason, given that current technology, that a group of dispatchers in Tolland cannot smoothly allocate emergency services across the 50-town eastern Connecticut area.
The state is combining the move with a change to all-civilian dispatch operations. Previously State Police assigned troopers to work with emergency dispatchers at the various barracks. The changes will free up about 20 troopers to get back on the road, said State Police Col. Danny R. Stebbins, making better use of their training and getting more in return for the compensation they receive.
When the consolidation process is completed Connecticut will have three regional dispatch centers for the western, central and eastern sections, sufficient for a state this size. Local dispatch centers will continue to serve the Bridgeport area and Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks.
The State Police union does not like the plans and points to concerns.
In barracks without dispatchers, visitors will often find a locked door and no on-site assistant, having to use a blue emergency phone to summon a trooper. This, argues the union, eliminates the barracks as safe havens for those seeking help.
In an age of cellphones this should not be a big issue. Driving to a barracks in the middle of the night is not the first option people think of in an emergency.
Critics of the changes - that is, the union - also note that troopers assigned to dispatch services could assist the arresting officer in processing and incarcerating suspects in the barrack's cells. Now pulling a trooper off the road will be necessary to provide the two troopers needed to process prisoners, goes the argument. Col. Stebbins responds that a plan is in place to take prisoners who do not make bail to jails operated by the Department of Corrections.
In any event, there will be no going back. Whatever issues arise are certainly manageable. People clamor for government to operate more efficiently and smartly. It is in this case.