LITCHFIELD POLICE COVERAGE TO GET NEW LOOK

John McKenna

May 19, 2022

Selectman retire's police. Litchfield to rely fully on resident state trooper program & state trooper patrols.

Litchfield police officers Greg Kenney, left, and Peter Russo will be retiring on May 31. BZ photo

Litchfield will rely fully on a resident state trooper program and state trooper patrols for its police coverage beginning June 1.

The Board of Selectmen is reshaping police protection as it prepares for the retirements of Cpl. Peter Russo and Officer Gregory Kenney on May 31. Russo started as a part-time constable out of high school 44 years ago and worked his way into a full-time position after his retirement as a state employee.

Kenney is a retired state police sergeant who has served the town for 10 years and has more than 40 years of law enforcement experience.

Russo’s last day on the job is Friday. He’ll use up vacation time through May 31. He and Kenney will be recognized for their service Friday at 3 p.m. at Town Hall.

As a cost savings measure, selectmen have decided to bring a second resident trooper on board to complement the current resident trooper, Jim Holm. Having two resident troopers will ensure prompt coverage in town on weekends, according to First Selectman Denise Raap. A state police patrol dedicated to Litchfield and Morris will remain available on a daily basis, she said.

Raap and selectmen discussed the new setup during the board’s meeting Tuesday at the Northfield firehouse.

“We’re going to have better coverage at a better cost structure,” Raap said, adding that she and Selectman Jeffrey Zullo met with management at Troop L recently to discuss bringing in a second resident trooper.

Troop L has endorsed the plan, Raap said. Holm has as well.

“A number of towns are doing the same thing,” Zullo said. “I do think we’ll end up with better coverage, especially on weekends.”

Litchfield’s cost for a second resident trooper is expected to be $178,000 or less, depending on the experience level of the trooper assigned to the position.

By comparison, the town is spending $157,242 this year for the services of Russo and Kenney. The amount includes the cost of benefits, insurance, overtime, equipment, training and gas. That cost, however, would have increased dramatically due the new police accountability bill taking effect July 1.

The new bill would require the town to pay roughly $150,000 a year to furnish its police officers with body cameras, purchase the technology needed to store and process information from the cameras, and hire a specialist to edit images from the cameras in response to freedom of information requests.

Selectmen decided the cost would be too great for the town to bear and began considering a second resident trooper.

Vehicles, firearms and equipment Russo and Kenney have used will be sold by the town, Raap said.