The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection
The Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection (DESPP) is composed of six divisions: the Division of State Police, the Division of Statewide Emergency Telecommunications, the Division of Scientific Services, the Police Officer Standards and Training Council, the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control, and the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security.
More than a century ago, the very beginnings of DESPP were founded when, in 1901, legislators authorized the governor to name a state Fire Marshal to investigate fires of suspicious origin.
Two years later, in 1903, lawmakers created the first state police department in the country, consisting of five men who drew a salary of $3 a day to enforce state liquor and vice laws. As the number of highways and vehicles grew, State Police Troopers were charged with making them safe for travel.
In 1939, shortly after his appointment, Commissioner Edward J. Hickey revolutionized the agency. He established a three-way mobile communications network and increased the strength of the department. Hickey divided state areas into divisions which encompassed 11 stations, and established six advanced and specialized units. He had the uniform redesigned and updated the Bureau of Identification, the forerunner of the present-day, state-of-the-art Forensics Lab.
A training academy, gun-owner registrations, resident State Troopers, state policewomen and the nation's first motor vehicle radar detection system (1946) were other State Police innovations during Hickey’s 14-year tenure.
Today, more than 1,200 men and women make up the sworn State Troopers of the State Police. There are 12 barracks scattered across the state and dozens of specialized units. State Police Troopers are primary law enforcement providers in 82 of the 169 municipalities in Connecticut. The Connecticut State Police is the third largest police force in New England.
In 1992, the agency had grown to the two full divisions of State Police and Division of Fire, Emergency and Building Services (DFEBS). In 1999, a third division, the Division of Scientific Services, was added.
The scientific aspect of Connecticut law enforcement had its beginnings in 1935 when the Bureau of Identification was founded to maintain fingerprint and mug shot files. More than 60 years later, in 1999, the Division of Scientific Services was created. The division is made up of three laboratories: the Computer Crime and Electronic Evidence Laboratory, the Forensic Science Laboratory and the Toxicology/Controlled Substances Laboratory. The combination of these laboratories, each unique in its service offerings, is responsible for all evidence examinations for the entire State of Connecticut. Under special circumstances, the division also will examine evidence for agencies outside our state borders.
In 2011, in an effort by the state to decrease the number of state agencies and reduce costs, three new divisions were added: Police Officer Standards and Training Council, the Commission on Fire Prevention and Control/Connecticut Fire Academy, and the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security. Also in 2011, DFEBS was changed to the Division of Statewide Emergency Telecommunications.
The mission of the Police Officer Standards and Training Council (POSTC) is to train municipal police officers. POSTC provides innovative, credible, responsive and high-quality basic, advanced and specialized training to Connecticut police officers, enabling them to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to serve the public with commitment, empathy and competence.
POSTC is charged with developing, adopting and revising a comprehensive standards program for local law enforcement units, to grant accreditation to those units that demonstrate their compliance with such standards, and to conduct assessments to determine a unit’s compliance with those standards. The purpose of these standards is to enhance the professionalism of Connecticut law enforcement agencies through voluntary compliance with contemporary, internationally-recognized standards of excellence.
The Commission on Fire Prevention and Control was established to prevent or mitigate the effects of fire and disasters, either natural or manmade, on the citizens of the State of Connecticut. This is accomplished through the development and delivery of state-of-the-art training and educational programs designed to meet nationally-recognized standards, certification of fire service personnel to such standards, consulting services and maintenance of up-to-date resources for use by fire service personnel, public fire and life safety educators, other first responders and the public.
The commission was created in 1975 and is composed of representatives from each of the statewide fire service organizations. The commission serves as the focal point for fire service training and education for the state’s 30,000 career and volunteer firefighters.
The Connecticut Fire Academy is a state-of-the-art training facility, operated under the guidance and administration of the Commission. The Training Division is responsible for the development and delivery of fire & rescue, hazardous materials, and other emergency services-related training programs.
The Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security is responsible for coordinating with state and local government personnel, agencies, authorities and the private sector to ensure adequate planning, equipment, training and exercise activities with regard to emergency management and homeland security.
This division coordinates homeland security communications and distributes information and security warnings with state and local government personnel, agencies, authorities and the general public. This division also establishes the standards and security protocols for the use of any intelligence information.