By Deborah Straszheim
Publication: The Day
Groton - A study of Groton's three police departments released Thursday urged the town and city to consolidate dispatch and jail services and collaborate on criminal and narcotics investigations.
Thomas Wilson, deputy director of management services for the Police Executive Research Forum, also told the Town Council that "you can't dismiss a discussion of merging these agencies," even though it was beyond the scope of the study. The group was not asked to make a recommendation as to whether a consolidation was appropriate.
The study estimated it would cost the town about $1.9 million to provide police service in the city and about $27,000 to provide it in Groton Long Point. Both subdivisions have their own departments.
For the city, Wilson said, the town would need 12 additional police officers, two more detectives and two more sergeants to provide additional support on day and evening shifts.
He said the town could provide service in Groton Long Point without hiring additional officers, but rather, by setting aside money for about 600 hours of overtime during the summer.
But, he added, it is a community decision.
Under the current setup, the study recommended that the town and city use a single dispatch system, integrate this into the records system and use the same radio system.
"The town police should know what the city police are handling. The city police should know what the town police are handling. Why? Because the bad guys don't care," Wilson said. "They don't care about your jurisdictional line."
The study recommended the city and town work together on investigations - with perhaps a narcotics unit supervised by Groton City and general investigations of other crimes assigned to town police. He said the city and town also should collaborate on their marine and dive responses.
Jail services should be merged and handled by the town, the study said. The study also recommended that town police consider using non-uniformed personnel to staff the front desk and that the departments reconsider whether the D.A.R.E. program is the best use of its resources for the schools.
Wilson said the subdivisions should break down their police costs precisely when asking the town for money.
"We believe that the city and Groton Long Point need to adjust to the town's budget process," he said.
The study found that each of the three police departments were well-managed and staffed to provide core services, without "fluff," Wilson said.
"Could you go down in patrol staffing? We certainly wouldn't recommend it," he said.