Local pastors are leading the charge to get police a new radio system.
Charles Tyree, a Norwich pastor and a volunteer Norwich Police Chaplain, says the current system is outdated, doesn’t work in parts of the city, and is dangerous.
News 8 rode along with officer Joel Ethier who called in a license plate number. “65833,” he said. “You have to give me the last digits again,” answered the 911 dispatcher.
There are several areas in the city where calls drop out or where officers cannot be heard at all at the dispatch center.
“Can you respond please, I can’t raise 10-10?” asked one dispatcher who couldn’t get in contact with another patrol unit on the radio.
“There’s times I mean I’ve called on the radio for back up and they were unable to hear me,” said Ethier.
The police radio system hasn’t been updated in Norwich since it was installed in the 1940s, and officers say the portable radios are even more unreliable.
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One winter day, an officer fell on ice and couldn’t get back to her car.
“I said ‘go ahead with your message,’ and I just got click click,” explained 911 dispatcher Jerry Roberts.
Fortunately, he recognized the officer’s voice from the first broken up message from her portable radio so he sent help to the her last known location.
“Her and the road supervisor went up there and found her on the ground,” said Roberts. “And she had been laying there for about ten minutes.”
“We’re concerned for our community very much and this problem’s been going on for decades,” said Pastor Tyree.
He and three other volunteer police chaplains are hoping to reach the masses with a billboard. They want people to vote yes on ballot question number 3.
“$2.7 million referendum. That sounds like a lot, but it amounts to only $14 per year in the average person’s property tax,” said Pastor Tyree.
If approved, Norwich would get connected to the state’s radio system which is expected to be more reliable than what they have now.
“You deal with it,” said Ethier. “Unfortunately, we have no other options.”
Voters have a chance to weigh in on election day November 6th.