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Outsourcing Middlebury Police Dispatch Will Save Money, Town Officials Say

Police dispatch may go the way of ambulance and fire, presently handled by Northwest Connecticut Public Safety Communication Center, but two Middlebury dispatchers aren't happy with the move.

 

Police Dispatcher Jim Roy's voice is one of the voices Middlebury residents hear when they call the police department.

His voice was also the one expressing concern about the Middlebury Board of Selectmen's support of the regionalization of dispatch communications, at the Monday, Dec. 3, Board of Selectmen meeting at the Town Hall.

Selectmen lent their support to a memorandum of understanding written by town counsel Bob Smith, regarding the regionalization of dispatch communications.

Presently, police dispatch is handled out of the Middlebury Police Department. Fire and ambulance calls are handled by Northwest Connecticut Public Safety Communication Center out of Prospect.

Roy said he intends to file a petition at the town clerk's office. If he obtains enough signatures and they are all verified, the matter of dispatch regionalization may come before residents at a referendum, he said.

"The bottom line is, this needs to be brought to the people of Middlebury," said dispatcher Tom Reynolds.

Dollars & Cents

Moving police dispatch to Northwest will save the town money, Chief Financial Officer Larry Hutvagner said. He presented the following figures.

  • Present cost of dispatch: $418,087
  • Northwest costs: $196,335
  • Savings: $221,752

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"From Middlebury's perspective, the cost to the town of over $400,000 per year is not justified by the low call volume numbers and the funding available from the state will help Middlebury transition to a more beneficial and cost effective solution," the memo stated.

The state grants coverage of transition costs to towns that regionalize dispatch communications services, for a maximum figure of $250,000, according to the memo.

Roy said he feels the numbers presented by Hutvagner are skewed.

"I don't see how we can just look at the dollars and cents and not look at the common sense of the whole situation," he said. "It's going to be interesting to see how this all comes together… Hopefully there wont be any delays."

Middlebury Just Isn't Busy Enough, Memo Says

Smith said Middlebury has the third lowest call volume in Connecticut in 2010, according to the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection PSAP Consolidation Study.

PSAP stands for Public Safety Answering Points, also known as emergency communications dispatch centers, according to the memo.

Middlebury's Statistics

According to the memo, emergency 911 calls in Middlebury average one every four hours, or six per day. Thomaston and Easton were lower than Middlebury, at five average calls per day each, according to the memo.

[Editor's Note: The article was edited to reflect that emergency 911 calls in Middlebury average six per day.]

"This low volume has been consistent for many years and did not change for 2011, with 2,244 calls, amounting to the same six calls per day," the memo stated. "Year-to-date statistics show the same low volume. It is important to note that these numbers include fire and ambulance calls, which are currently handled by Northwest Connecticut Public Safety Communication Center, Inc."

The Future of Town Employees

First Selectman Edward B. St. John said the town received a guarantee from Northwest Communications, that the two full-time dispatchers, Reynolds and Roy, would be guaranteed a job at Northwest.

"I certainly felt a lot better because we weren't closing the door and sending anyone out the street just because we were outsourcing our dispatch," said St. John.

Roy said he just heard about this guarantee at the December 3 board meeting. Smith said he is certain Roy heard about it before at a prior union meeting.

St. John is hopeful that Reynolds and Roy will choose to continue conducting dispatch for the town. Roy said he and Reynolds bring something to the table that no one else does.

"How do you put a dollar value on the knowledge and experience we have of this town?" Roy asked.

earle rylander December 13, 2012 at 06:00 AM
Sounds like they are putting the cart before the horse. Its kind of like the school system in Town. It sounded okay when it started know we pay alot of taxes with no say. Sounds like this is were this is heading.
John Maleto December 13, 2012 at 06:04 AM
Yea I hear you on that one. Problem is the selectman currently in power will not be around to see the negative effects this will have on the taxpayers and obviously they do not care. Reason I say that is because the state offers grant money to look into regionalization with other towns; they did not take advantage of this and are basically making a decision with no facts.
earle rylander December 13, 2012 at 06:09 AM
I wonder what the turn over of employees is at Northwest. I hear so many different voices dispatching ambulance calls. They seem to be there for a few weeks and then quit or get better jobs. I hope they take the job serious and understand the needs of the residents of Middlebury. I'm very concerned about the quality of service. I read about them hanging up on poor Mrs. Pierce when she needed an ambulance. That scares me.
John Maleto December 13, 2012 at 06:11 AM
Haha I hear you on that one. I plan on signing the petition that the dispatchers have, it's messed up that the town would do this. I gotta get to bed now though I'll see you at Chubba's in the morning buddy.
John Q Public December 24, 2012 at 03:01 AM
I volunteer for another town dispatched by Northwest, and I happen to know a few of the people that work there and the comment about turnover and quality couldn't be less true. Most of the people there have been there 3+years and the quality of our services dispatching has gone way up since we switched from another company 5 years ago.

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