Montville staffs independent police force panel

Montville - The Town Council on Monday appointed five members to serve on the Montville Law Enforcement Feasibility Ad-hoc Committee, which will produce a report on the anticipated costs and possible department policies of a proposed independent police force.

The Montville Police Department is currently overseen by state police and has a resident state trooper.

Attorney Jeff Buebendorf, retired Dime Bank employee Robert Giffen, retired State Trooper Victor Lenda Jr., engineer Wills Pike and William C. Bucko, who previously worked in construction, were appointed to the committee. There were 12 applicants for the five spots.

The council appointed Councilor Tim May, not present Monday, as the council's representative on the committee, and Public Safety Commission member Joseph DePasquale to represent the commission.

"We've been down this road before," Mayor Ronald McDaniel said after the meeting, referencing past incarnations of the committee.

"It's a whole different ballgame now," he added.

He explained that the town has already absorbed certain "hard costs" associated with creating its own independent force. As an example, he cited the town's new $6.5 million police facility.

The facility was constructed about a year and a half ago, according to Lt. Leonard Bunnell.

"We've done quite a few ad-hocs over the past 20 years and hopefully this one will come up with a successful conclusion," Bunnell said after the meeting.

The Public Safety Commission in April wrote a formal charge for the ad-hoc committee. The charge requested that the committee report include a consideration of the current language of the town charter, agency administration and organizational structure, staffing, cost assessments and dispatch and communication needs, as well as an evaluation of what police structure exists in comparable towns, possible department policy and procedure changes and who would be the overseeing authority.

The committee should produce a report for the Town Council within six months after its first meeting, according to Council Chairman Joseph Jaskiewicz. He said a first meeting has not yet been set.

Jaskiewicz suggested during the meeting Monday that the council appoint an alternate member to the committee at the next council meeting. He said before the meeting that, should the committee recommend the town form an independent police force, he thinks the final decision about whether to shift to an independent force should go to referendum.

t.townsend@theday.com

Twitter: @ConnecticuTess

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