Enhanced 911 Commission Marks Progress With Shared Radios, 911 Answering Times

New stats have good and bad news when it comes to Connecticut 911 dispatch centers answering your call for help.

Taking a call within 10 seconds was the focus of an NBC Connecticut Investigates exclusive earlier this year.

Dispatch centers are doing a better job answering your call within 10 seconds, a national standard.

Currently, Connecticut 911 centers are answering calls within 10 seconds 93 percent of the time, up from 91 percent last year.

“We continue to see improvement,” said Emergency Telecommunications Director William Youell.

The issue is, 18 of our state’s 109 dispatch centers are not answering 90 percent of their 911 calls within 10 seconds or less, a statewide goal. That’s up from 11 a few months ago.

The list now includes dispatch centers, also known as public safety answering points, or PSAPs, in Norwalk, Hartford, New Britain, Stamford, New Canaan, Hamden, Seymour, Windsor, Montville, Ansonia, Westport, Putnam Windsor Locks, Bethel Cheshire, and Connecticut State Police Troops F, G, and H.

“We do have some PSAPs still below the bar and we're working closely with them, particularly those with staffing challenges as they work through the hiring process in training new telecommunicators,” Youell added.

Dispatch centers now answering 90 percent of their 911 calls within 10 seconds that were warned for not doing so a few months ago include: Wolcott, Bloomfield, Bridgeport, Norwich, Redding, Stratford, and Weston.

Even though there are now more dispatch centers failing to answer 90 percent of their 911 calls in 10 seconds or less than a few months ago, the overall total number of calls answered in 10 seconds has gone up because the ones missing the mark are just a few percentage points off.

A few years ago, some dispatch centers were only answering 70 percent of their 911 calls within 10 seconds.

Another hot topic at the quarterly meeting of the state’s Enhanced 911 Commission: the state’s shared radio network, which NBC Connecticut Investigates told you about in an exclusive report this spring.

Administrators revealed it played a big role in helping police catch a fugitive wanted for murder.

The radio system, which state police now share with some local police departments, is saving towns and cities millions, and making it easier to communicate during critical incidents.

For example, on Sunday, state police stopped a man in a suspicious car on Interstate 95 in Stonington who then took off on foot.

Stonington and Groton Town police were also involved.

Those two departments are a part of the state’s shared radio system.

It enabled state police, Groton, and Stonington to communicate with just the touch of a button.

Ultimately that inter-departmental communication enabled officers to arrest Robert Annunziata, who, it turns out, was wanted for murder in Georgia.

“They were able to catch this person who actually made his way into a Little League all star game, active little league all star game. So he was hiding in the bushes behind there and they used the radio system to coordinate a response and they apprehended, he was wanted for murder in Atlanta”, said Clayton Northgraves, State Director of Emergency Telecommunications.

The shared radio system worked so well, Stonington Police Captain Todd Olson wrote state 911 coordinators about its benefits.

Northgraves read Captain Olson’s letter. “Our new radio system that we really felt would be a good for interoperability worked flawlessly in this situation. Everybody turned to a state police channel and we all used our badge numbers. It worked perfectly, and we were able to hear each other and we knew we had a solid perimeter.”

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