Police chiefs: Combine dispatch, save money now

Don't wait for county study on combining dispatch,records services, say Nuesse, McClung The chiefs of police in both Sandusky
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

 

Don't wait for county study on combining dispatch,records services, say Nuesse, McClung

The chiefs of police in both Sandusky and Perkins Township say combining their dispatch operations could save taxpayers as much as $429,000 in the first year.

There also would be substantial additional savings annually if the two departments operated in a joint facility, according to police chiefs Kim Nuesse and Tim McClung.

They delivered reports Friday to a joint committee made up of Sandusky and township residents detailing the cost reductions a combined facility would offer.

In addition to the savings from consolidating dispatch, payroll could be reduced by $140,000 annually by combining the records and evidence handling divisions of the two departments, according to the reports.

Additional cuts in operational costs would be realized over the long-term with a combined training area, shared interview space, storage and holding facilities.

"This will create quality delivery of service and greater cooperation," Sandusky's Nuesse said.

Perkins' McClung said a combined facility also would create better opportunities for detectives to work more closely together. Records from both communities would be easy to access during investigations, they said.

The benefits of combining dispatch and records are numerous, the chiefs said, and they don't want the effort delayed by a study county commissioners want to order.

"This is a regional approach to consolidation where cooperation already exists and where we can give an immediate benefit to taxpayers," McClung said.

Nuesse said the consolidation would allow for a dispatcher to be dedicated solely to monitoring dispatch services needed by the fire departments in both communities.

It also would allow for one or two dispatchers per shift to handle police radio traffic and reduce overtime expenses for each department.

"What I like about our smaller effort is that there's immediate cost savings involved in the short and long-term," she said. "It's taking smaller steps to get to where we might like to be someday with a regional effort. It lets you work out the obstacles and challenges on a smaller level."

The initial costs to merge dispatch operations would be between $50,000 and $70,000 to upgrade the system currently in use in Perkins Township, Nuesse said, but grant money already approved could be used to cover that expense.

That cost includes system upgrades that would enhance the records management process and enable the 911 system to precisely identify where callers using cell phones are located.

The joint committee has been reviewing the benefits and potential downside of a combined police headquarters for several months, including possible locations for a joint facility.

It is expected to make recommendations to city commissioners and township trustees in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, county commissioners are still in the process of gathering information from each community to gauge whether there is enough support to order a $40,000 study to determine whether a county-controlled centralized dispatch center could work.

The county has not yet determined what the potential benefits of a countywide dispatch center would be or whether it could reduce overall costs, County Commissioner Tom Ferrell said.

Perkins, Maragaretta, Milan, Sandusky and Huron have all expressed support for the feasibility study, which would be paid for by the county, he said.