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Norwich to join Stonington, Groton Town police in state radio system partnership

November 13, 2018

Norwich -- Following voters’ approval last week, the police department will become the third department in the region to join the state police radio system, greatly improving police communications while saving local taxpayers millions of dollars to upgrade their systems.

Norwich voters overwhelmingly approved a 10 million.

The 20,000 grant to equip two cruisers with computer systems to boost signals in certain city buildings with poor cellphone mobile radio service, including The William W. Backus Hospital and some larger, brick or concrete school buildings.

Daley expects the new system to be up and running by next September, ending decades of frustration and even fear by officers over calls that failed while they were requesting backup units or trying to explain potentially dangerous situations.

Daley said the new system will give Norwich “instant interoperability” with surrounding state police troops and other state agencies and with participating local departments.

Norwich officials didn’t have to speculate on the time schedule or estimated savings in joining the state system. Two neighbors to the south have led the way in the partnership that local police chiefs say they have craved for years with the state police.

Daley and Groton Town Police Chief L.J. Fusaro credited Stonington Chief Darren Stewart for paving the way. Stewart wrote the Memorandum of Understanding between his department and the state that has now become the blueprint for other departments to follow.

A state police spokesman said Stonington, Groton Town – with Groton Long Point police included – and now Norwich are the only towns participating in the state system, but there are now “a number of towns that are interested in taking part.”

Stonington signed the MOU March 1 for a 3.6 million if Stonington went on its own, and the ability to communicate with other participating departments and all state agencies was paramount.

Earlier this month, Stonington police received the top Municipal Excellence Award by the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities for the innovative partnership.

Groton Town likely will go online first. Fusaro said all the equipment, funded through the town’s capital budget, has been installed. A little more testing is needed before the system becomes operational in about a month.

“This was the most cost effective,” Fusaro said. “It would be 3 million if we did it on our own. The price we got on this was roughly a third the price.”

Fusaro said replacing the department’s aging radio system had been a top priority for him since he became chief. The state partnership is ideal, because it not only fosters greater communication with the state, but also with other surrounding police and other agencies. Groton shares Mystic with Stonington, and there are also numerous regional events – road races, festivals and VIP visitors who arrive at Groton-New London Airport and travel on Interstate 95 – when communication is vital.

“The ability to speak with each one of them on the state radio network is huge for me,” Fusaro said.

He and Daley praised Stonington Chief Stewart for persuading state officials to agree to partnerships with interested municipal police departments and for negotiating the MOU with state police and the state Attorney General’s office.

For years, Daley said local departments had asked to join the state system and were told it would not be possible. That changed in the current atmosphere of encouraging regionalization, cooperation and innovative ways to save money.

“Stonington,” Daley said. “They were the first. They deserve a lot of credit. They asked the right person at the right time. Now Stonington is benefiting, Groton Town is benefiting and now Norwich is benefiting.”

c.bessette@theday.com

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