Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Communications Center meeting

As previously mentioned, the Council visited a regional communications center tonight. Andy, Anne, Jimmy, Justin, Tom and I were there... along with the TM and two Chiefs (PD & FD).

I now understand that the driving force behind the meeting is possible state legislation that would require CT municipalities to regionalize. The background on the legislation is that it would require municipalities to participate in regional dispatch services that cover no fewer than three towns. And since it made it all the way to the Governor's desk -- where Jodi vetoed it -- it's possible that this mandate may come to pass in the not-so-distant future. So it's worthwhile for the Town to look at the two likely options:

1) outsource it to the regional dispatch services located in Prospect; or

2) insource other towns that would use Cheshire's dispatch services.

Either way, the Council Planning Committee's Chairman Jimmy Sima wants to be prepared.

The most notable piece of info I took from the discussion was that the Prospect-based dispatch services don't handle police. Instead they handle EMS and Fire. But that could quickly change, depending on new legislation. For me, that's a big issue because I think it makes sense to handle all emergency services together... whoever handles them.

Also, when you count all calls... Cheshire's dispatch services handle about 40,000 calls per year... everything from violent crimes to a cat "stuck" in a tree.

Tim White


Anonymous said...

Excellent way to control costs--the wave of the future-/DPW, etc will follow someday

Anonymous said...

another police officer announced retirement. Thats 5 officers from June - November 2010 (10+% of department). Two others looking at other departments and at least 2-3 more retirements in next 12 months

Anonymous said...

Anonymous July 09, 2010 9:05 AM said...
"Excellent way to control costs--the wave of the future-/DPW, etc will follow someday"

How can you make such a proclamation when you clearly have NO understanding of the facts and circumstances involved here? This is part of the problem today - low information voters and knee-jerk reactions to sound bites.

Regionalization in this instance is a classic case of “Legislators Gone Wild.” Just because it works for purchasing, some educational issues and the like, it does not mean that it will fix everything, especially things that currently aren’t broken. This bill, which was vetoed by the Governor, never should have made it as far as it did. Clearly, the input from all concerned public safety professionals was neither solicited, nor followed. The Connecticut Chiefs of Police Association is on record as being against this idea for many of the reasons that follow.

The “regionalization” of public safety dispatch services, generally speaking is a bad idea. Specifically as it relates to Cheshire, it is such an ill-conceived idea on so many levels, that it is difficult to know where to start.

Removal of the Dispatchers and the dispatch operation from the police department would simply be unacceptable. Here are some examples of problems arising from such a move.

Who would take walk-in complaints from the public? There are times on the 2nd and 3rd shifts, when the Dispatcher is the only person in the building. Does the public then go to a police department with a locked front door? Female Dispatchers also serve as Matrons (required by state statute) when there is a female prisoner in the cellblock. Speaking of which, who would monitor all prisoners while they are being held at C.P.D.? Currently, Dispatchers monitor the cellblock by closed circuit TV and intercoms. Do we then send our prisoners away, too? And if so, where would they go and at whose expense?

Would the staff of an out of town regional agency be familiar with all streets in town, the businesses and the people? How would they be aware of persons and situations with a pertinent history in an emergency situation? Seconds count in an emergency!

What would happen to Cheshire’s 9-1-1 Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) if we no longer had Dispatchers? The State is in the process of installing a fiber optic network as a high speed emergency inter-operability system. Would Cheshire lose that important new asset? Since 9/11, interoperability – meaning all necessary agencies being able to immediately communicate, has been the goal for public safety as well as Homeland Security.

Who would supervise out of town Dispatchers? How would that off-site supervisor be aware of all the policies and procedures of the Cheshire Police Department? How would a Dispatcher who is out of town, communicate with a police supervisor about how a particular situation should be handled? Right now, they are just a few feet away.

Who would operate the state and national police computer systems – COLLECT, NCIC and NLETS? Strict guidelines require that only staff certified by the State of Connecticut be allowed access to such terminals. Regulations require these persons to be under the supervision of a sworn police officer. Hamden tried to put the dispatch operation under control of a Fire Officer years back and was told no by the State.

How would an out of town Dispatcher enter complaints and calls for service into the C.P.D. computer system? A computerized Dispatch Ticket is the start of all other incident and accident reports. Do we now trash the new software system that the Department is in the process of obtaining?

The list goes on and on, but for now I will stop here. I think that when all these matters are factored in, any reasonable person will clearly see that in no way would regionalized dispatch ever be right for the Town of Cheshire. If you’re not happy about Cheshire losing its Probate Court, then you’ll like this idea even less!

Anonymous said...

The town dspatchers are crucial to the publics safety. In my eyes there is not a more important person than the 911 operator. Out source? Come on, there are many other ways to cost cut, and they don't get paid what they are worth now. They are a fine group of people who deserve the appropriate recognition for a job well done.

Anonymous said...

Outsourcing of dispatching is just (1) of the hundreds of difficult decisions over the next 5-10 years that will have to be made in order to align costs with taxes.....

Anonymous said...

Why not outsource the teachers as well? Regional schools work in other towns like Prospect so let's regionalize them too. We could save millions more than if we only outsourced the dispatchers.

We could outsource the police and have a resident trooper. That had worked in other towns. Less police staff for the regionalized dispatcher to talk to.

We could regionalize our public works. Let our guys work in another town and bring in other guys when needed. The guys working on our roads would not be residents so they would not care if the job is done right or even at all.

At that point, let's regionalize the fire Dept. Let other towns deal with our problems

When we are done regionalizing all our services, we would probably break even as our schools, safety, and infrastructure would be gone - much like the residents

Anonymous said...

2:32 PM--You probably think you are being facetious in your usggestions but you're probably right--outsource everything.