Concerns about police response times have turned into concerns about safety in Waterbury and a public meeting was held Wednesday night about how to address those concerns.
State Rep. Stephanie Cummings said she’s received several calls from families about the issue.
Several people attended the public forum inside the gymnasium at Chase Elementary School to voice their concerns.
Debra Mannello, of Waterbury, said she called police after someone fired a BB gun at her daughter’s car and it took 19 hours to get a response.
“I’m concerned, not just for my daughter, for all of our safety. I just would’ve expected a quicker response,” she said.
Cummings, who serves the 74th House District of Waterbury’s East End and East Mountain neighborhood, told NBC Connecticut over the last few months that she has received approximately 20 complaints from her constituents related to the response time it takes for Waterbury Police to arrive.
"Some of the situations are, you know, people will get into fender benders and they’ll have to wait hours for the police to come. Now that situation, as terrifying as it must be for the person encountering it, they may not realize what else is going on within the city," Cummings said.
Jesenia Morales, of Waterbury, said police response time is a concern for her.
"One time my fiancé got in a car accident. We called the cops at like 7 at night and they didn’t get there until almost 2 in the morning," Morales said.
Now, Cummings is teaming up with the department to make sure everyone’s concerns are heard.
"I was able to coordinate with Chief (Vernon) Riddick and Deputy Chief Apicella a community forum where people will be able to come and hear a presentation from the chief and deputy chief and have their complaints heard," she said.
Waterbury police received around 75,000 calls for service last year and they are divided into levels according to priority, according to police.
Riddick said slow response to situations like Mannello’s should be the exception, not the norm.
“There’s always an officer dispatched at some point for every single call. That’s the bottom line. We have to triage the important calls,” he said.
Riddick said the department does a great job in responding to top-priority calls that require immediate officer attention, but will take a look at how to do more to ensure lower level calls get the same service.
“There was nothing new that was brought up tonight. I think the important thing is to provide information as to the steps we have been taking,” Riddick said. “The important thing is, we care. Their words are not in vain. We’re taking action.“