Mutual aid for accident investigations, traffic enforcement approved

Wilton residents may notice an extra New Canaan or Norwalk police cruiser the next time they pull up to a seatbelt checkpoint.

The Board of Selectmen approved Monday a non-emergency mutual aid agreement Chief Michael Lombardo and the Wilton police department hope will soon be signed by town executives in six towns, including Darien, Weston, Westport, Norwalk, and New Canaan.

This agreement will allow police chiefs from these towns the ability to call for assistance from area departments during non-emergency situations, like serious car accident investigations or large-scale traffic enforcement.

An emergency mutal-aid pact is already in existence, Chief Lombardo said.

“This is a sharing, cooperative effort to get some work done we consider important to public safety without taxing our communities any further,” he said Thursday morning.

Norwalk, Wilton, and New Canaan have already signed the agreement.

Officers from surrounding towns may be called in to enforce traffic violations like cell-phone use and seatbelt violations, Chief Lombardo said, or to use equipment for traffic accident evaluations.

“This allows us to pool our resources of people and equipment for accident scenes. Different departments have different equipment [and software] we could utilize while diagramming the entire scene of an accident,” he said.

Each department will be responsible for their own personnel, Chief Lombardo said, meaning any officers sent on mutual aid will be paid by their home town, and would be covered by worker’s compensation insurance.

Nonetheless, the police chief said he believed no department would unnecessarily take advantage of the pact.

“The whole goal of this [is equity],” he said. “Another community may not call as much as us, but over time that will balance out.”

Another perk of the program, he said, was extra experience for officers.

“This gives more experience to our accident investigators, which leads to a more well-rounded officer,” he said.