Home » Sharon » Sharon homeowners discuss hiring a resident state trooper

State Police Trooper Roy Dungan, at left, and Lt. Alain Bisson, commanding officer for Troop B, participated in an informational forum on Friday, Oct. 15, at Veterans’ Field. Photo by Leila Hawken

Sharon homeowners discuss hiring a resident state trooper

SHARON — The Sharon selectmen heard from residents once again about their concerns with parking, speeding and crime — but this time they did it with two State Police troopers in attendance to listen to and respond to community concerns.

The forum attracted about 50 town residents to the pavilion at Veterans’ Field on Friday afternoon, Oct. 15.

Another forum had been  held on Wednesday, June 23.

The residents offered a list of safety concerns that they feel could be lessened by greater presence of law enforcement. The list included speeding, illegal parking, noise, criminal activity and backyard target practice.

Representing the State Police at Troop B were Lt. Alain Bisson (who is the troop’s commanding officer) and Trooper Roy Dungan who currently serves the three towns of Sharon, Cornwall and Goshen. Dungan has 17 years of experience in local law enforcement.

“We all know why we’re here,” First Selectman Brent Colley said as he opened the meeting. “The situations are not new.”

To start off the conversation, Bisson and Dungan explained how, why, where and when they can operate, and the challenges.

Addressing concerns voiced by Hilltop Road residents about speeding, Bisson noted that a greater-than-average number of tickets has been issued to speeders along the road, which connects Route 4 with the shopping plaza in town. Sharon Center School is also on Hilltop.

“Speeding is a statewide problem,” Bisson noted. Discussion included the wisdom of deploying speed humps along Hilltop Road, a strategy with a number of drawbacks.

Possibility of a resident state trooper

Conversation turned to the hiring of a full-time resident state trooper for the town, a solution that has worked well in other towns. The total annual cost to the town for a senior-level trooper would be $177,000, Bisson said.

The town’s share of that figure includes benefits, insurance and extra costs, described as 85% of the total cost. The balance, or 15%, is paid by the state of Connecticut.

By a show of hands, Colley determined that half of those present would be willing to consider hiring a resident state trooper for the town.

Colley urged residents to continue to share opinions and concerns with the selectmen. “Remember that nothing gets accomplished without your help when it comes to town decisions. It is at a town meeting when decisions are made.”

Bisson spoke of the advantages of having a resident state trooper in a town. Familiarity is a top advantage. The trooper, he said, asks to be assigned to a particular town because he or she wants to be there. There is connection.

Bisson advised looking at more than the cost. The value to be gained is of equal importance.

Questions concerned details of the duties and hours of a resident trooper and how shifts and irregular hours are arranged.

Increase in thefts, noise

Turning attention to the current incidences of theft, Dungan said, “If we would just lock our doors and our cars” the problems would be greatly reduced.

Many Northwest Corner towns are currently plagued by groups of thieves coming to the area in a single vehicle, and then setting off on foot, roaming neighborhoods to identify vulnerable targets such as unlocked cars with keys inside. They then drive those cars back to their city in a convoy. There can be as many as seven cars in a convoy, Dungan said.

Nighttime noise was also of interest to residents, whether from truck or motorcycle traffic or neighbors.

Parking along River Road was another serious issue to be dealt with (see Concerns in Sharon about too many visitors to river and trails).

Dungan suggested one solution for Hilltop Road could be to convert it to a one-way street. That idea faded after residents began to name other streets with speeding problems that they’d like to convert to one-way.

Other problems being faced by area towns stem from domestic violence incidents, which Bisson said seem to have increased during the pandemic.

Both officers urged residents who have a question or issue to feel welcome to contact them. Dungan pointed out, “We are all on the same team. Your input is valuable.”

Following the troopers’ participation, Sgt. Tate Begley — who has a background in state environmental law enforcement — continued the discussion, speaking in favor of the hiring of a resident state trooper.

Next steps, according to Colley, are to continue compiling local statistics about speeding, incidences, locations and time of day.

Colley said that the coming months bring the town budget process, when residents will be invited to air views on including the position of resident state trooper for the town.

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