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Waterbury police, residents gather to discuss response times

WATERBURY --  Residents and police came together at a public forum Wednesday night to tackle the topic of several concerns such as police response times.

The forum, with approximately 50 people,  was a constructive meeting in which community members asked questions and shared different concerns, the biggest being police response time.

"It was a total of 19 hours before she talked to an officer," said Waterbury resident, Debra Mannello as she was face-to-face with Waterbury police sharing her concern with police following an incident with her daughter.

"Somebody shot a BB at her car and shattered her window and it took 22 hours and four calls to dispatch to get a police officer," said Mannello who claims she got the run around.

Complaints like this is why state representative Stephanie Cummings put together the forum.

Chief Vernon Riddick, Jr., of Waterbury Police, said "there’s always an offer dispatched for every single call, that’s the bottom line we have to triage the important phone calls, the dangerous phone calls."

In Debra's case, her daughter was not injured which police said put her call lower on the list for response.

"When you have a stabbing or a heart attack or an infant not breathing, we have to get there so now the barking dog or the loud music gets knocked out," said Riddick, Jr.

Riddick, Jr., said last year,  Waterbury police took in 75,000 calls.

"We don't want anybody to wait 19 hours for a call," said Fernando C. Spagnolo, Deputy Police Chief of Waterbury Police Department.

This was just one of several different concerns community members took to the mic for. The panel responded to each person to try to find solutions.

"We're working on the follow up component, we do recognize that," said Spagnolo.

But police said this meeting is also about educating the public.

"There was nothing new that was brought up tonight, I think the important thing was for us to provide information as to the steps we have been taking. Waterbury police want the community to come forward with concerns, like tonight," said Riddick, Jr.

"Our door is always open," said Spagnolo.

To help strengthen the relationship, and in turn, the city, Spagnolo said "we really can't do it without you so we appreciate you bringing this to our attention."