Some towns are starting to reap the benefits of using a free, state two way radio network, while others are still spending millions on their own systems. It’s the latest story in a continuing series by NBC Connecticut Investigates “At a Price-The High Cost of Local Town Living.”
When downed power lines across Interstate 95 on April 2 rerouted rush hour drivers through Groton, leaving traffic at its worst, the town of Groton’s brand new police radios were at their best.
Chief L.J. Fusaro says while new radios his officers got just a week earlier did not help them eliminate the gridlock, they did assist in responding to traffic pattern changes faster than they would have before.
It moved communications to a network operated by the state, an exclusive NBC Connecticut Investigates shared with you earlier this year.
“By spending literally pennies on the dollar, we’re getting capabilities that would have cost us a much greater amount of money”, Fusaro said.
This new radio setup not only gives officers more reliable two-way communication, for the first time they could also listen on handhelds to what State Police are doing, something that came in handy April 2.
“They could forecast some stuff, so if traffic is moving off the highway, they kind of got advance notice of it, and vice versa”, Fusaro explained.
Groton’s early success was a topic of conversation with a state 911 panel.
Connecticut’s director of emergency telecommunications says in addition to Groton town, Groton city, Norwich, Stonington, and Coventry, other towns and cities are either planning to join the state’s radio network, or are considering it, ultimately saving their taxpayers money.
“We're working with the cities of Middletown and Wallingford to connect both of their systems to our system”, said Connecticut Director of Emergency Telecommunications Clayton Northgraves.
One community opting not to join the state’s shared police radio system is the town of Avon.
It will instead spend $4 million to build its own police, fire, and town services radio network, saying a partnership with the state would only produce minimal savings. So far though, the town has not provided us with any studies that prove its point.