The Town Council approved applying for a grant for funding to create a Mid-State Major Crimes Unit with five surrounding towns at their meeting Monday night.
The eight to ten person unit will investigate major crimes such as sex assaults, armed robberies and aggravated assaults however; the state police would still handle homicides. The members of the unit would come from the police departments in Newington, Cromwell, Wethersfield, Berlin and Rocky Hill.
"It would be the cream of the cream," said Rocky Hill Police Chief Michael Custer said.
The unit would consist of about one to two detectives from each department, he added.
"The concept has worked really well with the accident reconstruction team," Custer said.
The town currently has a Mid-State Narcotics Task Force and Accident Reconstruction Team, which were both formed through grant money.
With the Mid-State Accident Reconstruction Team, each of the five towns involved will send one of their officers to help with any major accidents in any of the towns.
"It has proved to be very beneficial," said Town Manager Barbara Gilbert.
With the Major Crimes Unit, if there is an incident in town, the officers from the surrounding towns could focus on processing the scene while the Rocky Hill detectives could focus on the investigation, Custer said. Currently, if a major crime occurs in town, the Rocky Hill Police Department is responsible for the brunt of the work.
"We bear the brunt the processing," Custer stated. "We would have call to the whole (detective) bureau in."
Like many other municipalities in Connecticut, Rocky Hil relies on the state police to handle major crime cases in town. Sometimes, the state police have taken a long time to respond to major crimes in town, Gilbert said.
Custer added that the department could continue to call in state police, but the unit would allow their own men to handle major crime cases.
Town Council Member and Former Fire Chief Joe Kochanek said the fire companies have a similar agreement to the Mid-State Narcotics Task Force and Accident Reconstruction Team. When a major fire occurs in a town, the firefighters can call for aide from surrounding towns. Sometimes, the assisting firefighters respond to the fire or watch over their headquarters and respond to other emergency calls in town.
"It has worked well," Kochanek said.
Councilor Frank Szeps asked what the expense to the taxpayers would be. The Mid-State Narcotics Task Force and Accident Reconstruction Team do not cost the town any additional money expect for the officers’ man hours, Gilbert stated.
"If we did not have the accident reconstruction team that entire thing would be done in house, which would require more officers," Gilbert stated "In fact, it saves us money."
Custer agreed with the town manager and said the accident reconstruction team and narcotics taskforce have been "cost savers.”
"The cost instead of being born by one agency is now being shared by five," he said.
With all the units, each town is only responsible for their officers. Rocky Hill would have to pay their officers' overtime and workers' compensation.
The unit would get additional training for officers at no expense to the town, Gilbert said.