The regionalization of police services is not a new concept. For almost 20 years, North Haven and North Branford have had a regional SWAT team. For 10 years, North Branford and Branford have had an agreement for regionalization of traffic enforcement.
Now the team effort is expanding again as the , and recently entered into an agreement to form the South Central Regional Traffic Unit.
“It’s the idea of pooled resources,” said Lt. David D’Ancicco of the North Branford Police. “All of these towns are on the small side, with North Branford being the smallest, but we can all benefit from each other in a way, whether it’s personnel expertise, equipment, manpower.”
North Branford and North Haven have had a regional SWAT team for almost 20 years and D’Ancicco said that earlier this summer, the East Haven Police Department expressed interest in further regionalizing the area.
East Haven Interim Police Chief Brent Larrabee told Patch all three towns have seasoned, experienced police officers in accident reconstruction. But none of them have the resources needed to form their own individual teams within a department.
And so a regional team allows the three to join their collective manpower and knowledge — as well as share the financial costs — when an accident reconstruction is required.
"The three departments actually have a very good working relationship," Larrabee said, adding the paperwork just makes the arrangement an official one.
A Quick Start
With talks in the works, the need for regionalization became quickly apparent after a tragedy in North Haven when 16-year-old when riding his bicycle on Clintonville Road on Aug. 29.
“We enacted the agreement so quickly because of the fatality with the 16-year-old in North Haven,” said D’Ancicco. “North Haven only has one accident reconstruction guy and he was out due to an off-duty motorcycle accident so we sent them reconstructionists and support officers as well.”
East Haven, however, has a handful of officers qualified in accident reconstruction.
In these situations, a command structure is in place where a lieutenant from one of the towns — in this case, it’s Lt. Edward Lennon of the EHPD — leads the team and they concur with the other command staff. An assistant is also appointed. In the case of the North Haven fatality, it is North Branford Sgt. Mark Flanagan.
Larrabee said forming a regional team ensures all three departments have officers on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to immediately respond to an accident scene.
The Benefits of Regionalization
Lt. Kevin Glenn, spokesman for the North Haven police department, said, all three communities benefit because the group "allows a host of accident investigators to come together and provide a service to the represented communities. This is not the first regional traffic team in the state, but to my knowledge it is the first team in the North Haven Police Department’s history."
D’Ancicco pointed out that with the regionalization effort, the towns not only share personnel expertise, equipment and technology like accident reconstruction software, but it also gives the departments an advantage when applying for grants.
When teamed up with Branford for traffic enforcement, D’Ancicco said that many times they didn’t receive grants because there were just two towns in the regionalized effort.
“Being part of a regionalized task for opens the door for those grants,” said D’Ancicco, who said DUI checkpoints, speeding enforcement and Click It or Ticket campaign efforts have been funded by grants as well as the purchase of the department’s motorcycle. “The grants really maximize the services the citizens in town get.”
"It will definitely help us as far as applying for grants," the interim East Haven police chief said.
Now that the regionalization efforts have grown, D’Ancicco is hoping the towns will be eligible for more grant money down the road and in the meantime, they will benefit from the shared resources.
“We will be able to more efficiently manage the crime scene, process the evidence and come to a conclusion to wrap everything up with the regionalization,” he said.
"The North Haven police administration is very pleased with the regional unit," said Glenn. "It allows each agency to serve its community with an increased level of expertise in the field of accident reconstruction."