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Council Needs More Information Before Proceeding with CMED

The North Branford Town Council held a special meeting to gather information on and discuss CMED and emergency regionalization options.

 

On Sept. 11, the North Branford Town Council held a special meeting regarding the Emergency Communications Committee,  and CMED, which is currently located on Orange Street in New Haven where it dispatches fire, rescue and 911 for 16 towns. 

"There have been many questions in regard to how to go about bringing CMED to North Branford," said . "There is funding available, grants to be applied for, but CMED and the regionalization of resources are separate issues."

Representatives from the State of Connecticut attended the meeting to answer questions including Joan Hilliard, head of Connecticut On-Line Law Enforcement Communications Teleprocessing (COLLECT) and William Youell, director of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP). Several Police Commissioners, members of the North Branford Fire Department and a dispatcher, among other residents, were also in attendance.

Hilliard voiced concern in having CMED dispatching police, too, as COLLECT operates under federal guidelines that must be followed and pointed out that there cannot be a "black" police station as it must be manned in order to run warrants.

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The Numbers

Mike Doody, the chairman of the ECC, reported that , had ran some preliminary numbers, estimating a savings of approximately $298,000 a year–the personnel cost of dispatchers.

Doody said he was aware that the police department would need to be updated before CMED could be housed there, but said "If you put up a $1 million building, it could be paid off in three years."

If the town were to proceed with CMED, there is grant money available, including approximately $895,000 from the state and $100,000 from CMED to outfit the center. Youell said there are grants up to $250,000 available from DESPP for towns that regionalize services, though they are "first-come, first-serve."

Other unanswered question was whether CMED would pay rent as North Branford would be the host facility and the operating costs of CMED. 

"Even if we do save that money each year and go to CMED, we still don’t know how they’re operating," said Candelora. "First they said they’d pay us rent, then said that they wouldn’t pay for years if they put money up front for us."

Candelora suggested housing CMED in a building separate from the police station, leaving the current dispatchers in place; however Youell said that scenario would leave the town ineligible for the DESPP grant.

Public Opinion

Several Police Commissioners attended the meeting after . Vice Chairman of the Police Commission Dave Palumbo, who is also on the ECC, shared information the police department had collected in regard to other towns regionalizing, finding that none had done so, as well as other concerns.

"Our building needs some attention—if we were to put CMED in there, we don’t have the room," said Palumbo. "We want what’s best for the town and for the safety of the fire and police, but right now we don't have concrete facts and figures and I don’t want to make a mistake. Maybe CMED isn’t the answer but maybe regionalizing with other communities could be."

Palumbo also said he had heard reports of dispatchers' mistakes but had never been presented with recordings, though the Police Commission would be drafting a letter to requesting the tapes.

Caprio then asked, "Do we have problems or are these perceived problems. If there is a problem and nobody's been alerted, that's a major problem."

With just , Doody pointed out that they are not able to do emergency medical dispatch as they're supposed to. Councilman Andrew Esposito said, "There's no question we need another dispatcher."

Steve Torino, a member of the , underscored the need for more dispatchers and the benefits of expanding the dispatch center.

"If you bring in CMED, you’re bringing in tax revenue, bringing in jobs for people who are getting food here, gas here so I don’t see how it could hurt the town," said Torino. "We’re going to be second again? A step behind? Everyone is looking at the negative side, no one’s looking at the positives. We'd be getting state-of-the-art equipment. As a taxpayer, during budget time we were here while you prioritized cuts, but if two 911s are called in at once, who is the priority then?"

What's Next?

While everyone in the room may not have been in agreement of which direction the town should take, almost all seemed to voice the opinion that more information was needed.

"Right now we have a lot more homework to do before we do anything," said Candelora. "In order to fix a problem, you have to know what the problem is. We should continue down the path of looking at options."

The ECC is planning to include a representative from DESPP and Hilliard at its next meeting to continue to explore possibilities. Caprio also asked if any dispatchers had been in attendance at the meetings–they hadn't–but it was suggested they may be included in future meetings.

"We're still looking into our options," said Doody. "The Committee has not yet made any recommendations–the Committee isn't done."

Jenn McCulloch September 12, 2012 at 03:50 PM
Correction: The figure of $895K in grant money was incorrect; the DESPP grant of up to $250K is the correct figure.
Robert Colangelo September 12, 2012 at 05:14 PM
The Town has to seriously consider this opportunity. The current system is set up for failure! We currently have ONE (1) dispatcher answering 911 calls, routine phone calls and interacting with the general public at a window. Not to mention dispatching police, fire and EMS alarms. It’s very easy for any one dispatcher to get over whelmed. Call volume has increased significantly over the years, however no increase to manpower to compensate for the work load. I have lived in this Town for over 27 years and have seen no change in the in the staffing of our communications center! This is not acceptable. My concerns are as follows: What happens if the only dispatcher we have becomes incapacitated while in the building after hours? Why is a tellecommunicator interacting with the general public at a window while performing their duties? How does one dispatcher effectively provide pre arrival instructions during EMS (Emergency Medical Service) alarms? How effective is the EMD (Emergency Medical Dispatch) process? And lastly who at the police department is doing the required quality assurance of our dispatchers? As a tax payer I realize there may be upfront costs and issues that will develop with any regionalization project. However egos have to be put aside and informed decisions need to be made in the BEST interest of the public as well as the police, fire and EMS responders.
fedup September 12, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Well said. It appears that all but one of the town council members realize both the public safety and fiscal savings that would be realized with this regionalization project. It is a "No Brainer". That being said, its no wonder the Police Chief and his Police Commissioners voted against it - No Brainers.
fedup September 12, 2012 at 11:40 PM
Jenn, Isn't the Correct figure $250K for EACH town? North Branford = $250K and Bethany = $250K That would be $500K right there. I am so confused by what I hear and what I read I really had hope The Patch was going to be the place for the right facts...
Concerned September 13, 2012 at 12:10 AM
Where was the Uninformed Police Chief at this meeting? Maybe this is why he has no idea whats really going on....he doesn't attend the meetings! Just the day before he had a lot to say about what he didn't know....then misses the chance to find out. One might think he's ashamed to face Mike Doody and would rather just miss the meetings. Oh Well, what a tangled web we weave...
Janice Turner September 13, 2012 at 01:46 AM
He was getting a free meal down at Lorenzo's in West Haven. To busy to attend an emergency meeting .
Concerned September 13, 2012 at 11:00 AM
He is at Lorenzo's often.... they hold their "meetings" there. He's burned all his free meals here in North Branford...I'm sure that's part of how he put 181,000 miles on his town owned car..... disturbing to think about as he lives exactly 4 miles from work. Here's something to think about: If you do the math, driving from his house to work, round trip, five days a week, 52 weeks a year, (ya, right) is 2080 miles. Lets double that and let him go home and back for lunch. It would take 19 1/2 years to put that mileage on his car. All this from a Chief who has no idea what's going on but has Block delivered to his home from North Haven by his officers on town time, using a town paid vehicles, and town elected officials know about it and condone it? What am I missing?
Jenn McCulloch September 13, 2012 at 11:29 AM
@fedup: You are correct. It is up to $250K for each town. Thank you for the clarification.
Robert Colangelo September 13, 2012 at 03:04 PM
As I cannot confirm the comments to my initial comment regarding my concerns of the North Branford communication system. I think it's important to stay focused on the issue of a regional communication system. We need to concentrate our efforts on what's best for public safety as well as it's police, fire and EMS responders. I cannot stress how important it is to have citizen's to attend meetings, ask questions and address concerns! THERE NEEDS TO BE A CHANGE AND NOW IS THE OPPORTUNITY.
Ron Onofrio September 14, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Maybe there should be change but it shouldn't be stuffed into a police department that isn't big enough as it is...as the town manager stated..."its a dump" and now there's people that want to add to the dump...there needs to be a new police department built before even considering sticking 10 pounds of sand into a outdated, broken down 5 pound bag....MAYBE THE PEOPLE WHO THINK ITS A GREAT IDEA SHOULD TAKE A TOUR OF THE POLICE DEPARTMENT LIKE I HAVE AND THEN YOU WILL SEE THE BUILDING TRULY IS A DUMP!!!
Old Timer September 14, 2012 at 01:30 AM
I am sure the police building did not turn into a dump over night or just in the past 6 months. Having listened to town officials at town council meetings for many years I have never heard the police chief ask for any money to fix his building. The town has out grown many services including the police department. Our residents probably don't even know there are only 2 or 3 officers working on a shift. Don't get me wrong, these patrolmen do a great job with what they have to work with. More people need to get involved in town council activities and start to ask important questions about public safety. And those that we elect to serve on the council really need to get informed on what we need and where we should be going in the future. I am so tired of listening to them tell us, "we can't afford that or now is not the time or North Branford is a small town and we need to stay that way or we do just fine with what we got." Come on now wake up and get educated look around what other towns are doing to better themselves and their people. Getting a regional dispatch seems to be a move that will protect us better than what we have now and may even save us money. Building a new police station is just a small part of what the town needs to survive.
Robert Colangelo September 14, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Lifetime Resident, I agree the PD may be too small at the present time. However, my question to the leadership of that building would be: How does a building that's occupied 24 hours a day and cleaned by a professional cleaning company become “a dump”?! And why now is this issue being brought up?! Regional dispatch should NOT be used as a crutch for the PD to do renovations. Those funds are for COMMUNICATIONS. Now if the Town has enough vision to realize this is the correct move and they would like to do the necessary renovations to accommodate regional dispatch I think that would be fantastic. As far as a tour, been there many times in the course of my duties. With the exception of space it's not that bad.
Robert Colangelo September 14, 2012 at 01:55 PM
Old Timer, I couldn't agree with you more! They do a great job with what they have. I have the pleasure of working with them every day. There needs to be increased manpower. It's just not safe for them as well as the public they serve.
Jenn McCulloch September 18, 2012 at 05:54 PM
There will be a tour of the police department and public works tonight.... http://northbranford.patch.com/articles/special-meeting-tour-of-public-works-and-north-branford-police-department

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