New London, Neighbors To Research Regional Dispatch Center

Representatives from city, East Lyme, and Waterford to look into coordinated emergency communications

Representatives from New London, East Lyme, and Waterford will meet today to enter an agreement to research the feasibility of a regional dispatch center.

Mayor Daryl Finizio announced that the meeting will take place at 9:30 a.m. at the Waterford Police Department headquarters. The dispatch center would serve the fire departments, police departments, and emergency medical services of the communities.

During the meeting, the chief executives of the communities also plan to sign a Division of Statewide Emergency Telecommunications Transition Grant application in an effort to secure $750,000 in state funding for implementation and a $215,000 annual contribution toward the project if it moves forward.

The planning group's activities will include research into issues such as information technology, labor and management organization, policies and procedures, governance, and legal and finance structure.

"East Lyme, New London and Waterford are natural partners for regional collaboration particularly with regards to emergency communications as coordinating mutual aid and rerouting calls for service are commonplace between the municipalities," Finizio said in a statement. "Financial burdens remain a serious concern shared by each of the three communities. Each municipality is compelled to explore all options to control expenses. The potential for cost savings by regionalization of emergency dispatch communications is significant."

Finizio also said a regional dispatch center could improve public safety response to large-scale emergencies.

New London and Waterford entered into an emergency communications agreement last year to incorporate New London into Waterford's new $6.5 million and contribute to annual maintenance costs, thereby meeting a federal mandate to switch emergency communications systems to narrow band 800 MHZ frequency by the beginning of 2013. However, when Waterford tried last year to merge dispatch services with East Lyme the union that represents East Lyme's dispatchers objected to the plan and it ultimately failed.

Waterford’s dispatchers are non-union employees. New London and East Lyme both have unionized dispatchers.

“There are many ways around many things,” Steward said Tuesday.

The group will present their findings to the municipal chief executives by July 1.

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