Union raps cuts in state police at Conn. casinos

State troopers union says reduced patrols at Conn.'s 2 casinos could risk public safety

Associated Press

NEW LONDON, Conn. (AP) -- A police reduction set to begin this week at the two Indian-run casinos could jeopardize public safety, the head of the union representing Connecticut state troopers says.

Officials say fewer state police will patrol the casinos on Friday and Saturday nights to help cut costs and deploy troopers elsewhere, The Day of New London reports (http://bit.ly/UJR7ew ).

The plan calls for Mashantucket Pequot tribal police to increase their presence at the Foxwoods Resort Casino and Mohegan tribal police to do the same at the Mohegan Sun.

That's not enough protect the public, says Sgt. Andrew Matthews, president of the Connecticut State Police Union.

"Anyone would realize that's not sufficient staffing to protect the public," Matthews said. "We think it's a bad move."

Attendance and the police workload have declined at the casinos, says Col. Danny Stebbins, commanding officer of the state police.

He said he disagreed with a 2012 state police staffing study that recommended both minimal and optimal staffing levels at state police divisions and units across the state. The study said an additional nine troopers would bring the casino policing unit to a minimal staffing level.

Cuts in policing follow a New Year's Eve encounter outside MGM Grand in which detectives used a stun gun on a suspect who resisted arrest.

State police arrested two people on Thanksgiving weekend in connection with a melee that police said involved 80 to 100 people.

And a detective broke several ribs while responding to a brawl at MGM Grand last February.

Bill Satti, spokesman for the Pequots, said the tribe is in the final stages of increasing police. When fully staffed the force will have more than doubled to 25 the uniformed fully trained and certified peace officers to offset the reduction in state police.

Chuck Bunnell, the Mohegans' chief of staff, said the tribal police force has numbered more than 20 for years and that tribal police typically outnumber state police.

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Information from: The Day, http://www.theday.com

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