The new head of Connecticut's Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) is reversing a move by her predecessor that had some state police barracks closed after normal business hours.
Commissioner Dora B. Schriro announced Monday the restoration of 24/7 trooper coverage at all state police barracks across the state. Previously, as part of the recent consolidated dispatch project, some troops were closed after normal business hours.
“After careful review, I have determined that our state police barracks need to be open and accessible to the public 24/7,” Schriro said. “I have directed Eastern District Major Michael Darcy and Western District Major William Podgorski to implement this plan, effective immediately.”
Schriro assumed the role of the Commissioner of the DESPP in January, making her the first woman to ever hold the position. She succeeded DESPP Commissioner Ruben Bradford, who retired on Feb. 1, 2014.
The state police union had taken a vote of no confidence in Bradford, along with his second in command, Col. Danny Stebbins, in light of the consolidation of statewide dispatch centers from 12 to five, according to CT News Junkie.
When consolidated dispatch was implemented, emergency call boxes were installed outside the barracks without 24/7 coverage to allow individuals to call to access a trooper after normal business.
“This plan will afford all Connecticut residents the peace of mind that comes with knowing their Troop is open and immediately available to them,” said Eastern District Major Michael Darcy.
“To ensure the efficiency of this directive, the troopers providing the extra coverage will remain productively engaged in enforcement activities that are typically conducted in the barracks,” said Western District Major William Podgorski.
Schriro said she will continue to conduct a top to bottom review of consolidated dispatch.
Last month, she suspended any further consolidation until her review is complete. When it is done, she will be briefing Governor Dannel P. Malloy on her findings and recommendations moving forward.
Her decision Monday was applauded by The Connecticut Council of Small Towns (COST).
“The consolidation, intended as a cost-savings measure, has drawn widespread criticism from small towns throughout Windham County and other areas of the state,” said Betsy Gara, Executive Director of COST.
“Protecting the public safety of residents is a top priority of municipal leaders,” Gara added. “The consolidation of the dispatch centers created delays and gaps in responding to emergency calls that raised very serious concerns in our communities.”