Multiple emergency call centers may hurt response times

To the Editor:

A cadre of upstate police chiefs concluded that the emergency response by the Newtown Police Department to the Sandy Hook shootings two year ago was as good as it gets, if not heroic. I see no reason for anyone to doubt that, given the information the responding Newtown officers had at the time of their initial response.

I do, however, believe that the emergency notification system the victims used to call in had its failings and that the system needs some review, if not major corrections.

From just newspaper reports, I know that the surviving victims at the elementary school who called in on land lines had their calls taken by the Newtown Emergency Communications Center. Victims at the school, such as the janitor, who called in on cell phones, had their calls taken by the regional Connecticut State Police Dispatch.

As best I can tell, the first Newtown officers on scene did not have the benefit of the initial, but very detailed, information relayed to the state police via cell phone. I believe that it is more than prudent for our government to ask, that had all calls gone to one dispatch, would Newtown police acted differently in the initial moments at the school.

In Fairfield, it is not uncommon for the regional Connecticut State Police Dispatch to relay a 911 cell phone call to Fairfield dispatch for response due to the jurisdictional location of an incident being different from the cell phone location on the technological grid.

According to the nation’s crime reports,  the U.S. Department of Justice Uniform Crime Reports, Fairfield sees only sees two to three dozen incidents of violent crime in a typical year. The deficiency in technology is, therefore, probably of no routine concern. However, in the chance of a black swan event such as a mass shooting on a soft target, the deficiency might cost too many lives that might otherwise be saved

I would hope that our local public safety celebrity brain trust has this simple technological problem in its crosshairs with a solution not far away, but I am not holding my breath to find out.

 

Jim Brown

Fairfield

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