Beacon Falls, Bethany agree to share trooper

BEACON FALLS — Beacon Falls and Bethany will share a resident state trooper under a three-year agreement.

The two towns participate in the resident state trooper program. Under the program, Connecticut State Police provide at least one trooper for towns to oversee police operations. State police also provide services, such as dispatch and booking, for towns in the program. For Beacon Falls and Bethany, the services are provided at Troop I in Bethany. Towns in the program still have their own officers that work for the municipalities.

Beacon Falls, Bethany and the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection approved a contract in June for the towns to share a trooper. The contract runs from July 1 through June 30, 2022. Under the agreement, Beacon Falls and Bethany will evenly split the cost of one shared resident state trooper, whose time will be divided between the towns. If one of the towns requires the trooper for a specific event or project, that town will be responsible for any overtime costs, according to the contract.

The towns and the state could terminate the contract by providing 30 days written notice.

Trooper Humberto Henriques, who has been the resident state trooper in Beacon Falls since December 2014, is the trooper for both towns, according to officials.

First Selectman Christopher Bielik said sharing a trooper is a win-win. He said the town gets the economic benefit of only paying for half the program while still retaining the services provided by Troop I.

Sharing a resident state trooper cuts Beacon Falls’ cost of the program basically in half to about $100,000. However, overall police spending increased about $34,000 this fiscal year due to additional hours for town police officers to cover when the trooper is in Bethany. Also, the cost of patrol officers was under budgeted in the 2018-19 fiscal year.

Bielik said town police officers will fill in when the trooper is in Bethany.

“I’m confident that there’s going to be no drop-off in the quality of the response the citizens of the town are going to receive,” he said.

Bethany First Selectman Paula Cofrancesco, who was elected in May and took office on July 1, said work on the agreement to share a trooper was done by her predecessor, former Bethany First Selectman Derrylyn Gorski. Cofrancesco said the decision came as the town’s former resident state trooper, David Merriam, retired. He was subsequently hired as the police administrative lieutenant in Bethany, she said.