Combined dispatch started as an idea to save precious tax dollars and improve police and fire department services in both Sandusky and Perkins Township, but county commissioner Tom Ferrell Jr. transformed it into a gluttony of expenditures totaling $2.2 million that will grow the county bureaucracy if he is successful.
And Ferrell began spending tax cash from the very start when he arrived late to the show and hatched his dispatch dream last year. Talks between Sandusky and Perkins were well under way and meeting with success when he called for a countywide system. Ferrell hijacked the process and insisted the local experts on dispatch were inadequate. He called for a consultant's study that he said would cost just $60,000 and be paid for by a federal grant.
Turned out the study cost local taxpayers $100,000 and was not covered by a federal grant, and the conclusions reached by the consultant mirror, in many respects, information we already had. Ferrell and his supporters adamantly claimed the sheriff's dispatch system was top-notch and capable to take on the the call traffic from Sandusky and Perkins.
Not so much.
Both former Perkins police Chief Tim McClung and fired Sandusky police Chief Kim Nuesse determined the sheriff's department system was inadequate. That's the same conclusion reached by the consultant. Tom's dispatch dream will require $760,000 in upgrades to the sheriff's dispatch operation to be adequate. While Sandusky and Perkins were looking to car-pool to save money, Ferrell sweet-talked them into going in on a Cadillac -- one that needs some work.
And Ferrell is cherry-picking the consultant's study. He's overlooking the conclusion it reached that the best dispatch system in the county is the one already in operation at the Perkins Police Department. McClung and Nuesse reached that conclusion long before Ferrell forked over $100,000 to learn what we already knew.
Combining the Sandusky and Perkins dispatch operations was always the first and most logical step toward a regionalized system, and Ferrell worked to put the kibosh on progress the moment he stepped into the fray. His leadership on this issue has been dishonest, irresponsible and woefully inadequate. He's already wasted a big chunk of taxpayer cash and precious time, and he has no credibility on this issue.
We suggest -- in the strongest terms -- that Ferrell step back from any further discussion of dispatch and focus his energies on problems that already exist with county government services, including jail overcrowding, economic development and a host of other issues. He's been just as inadequate in these areas for years, but at least that will keep him from creating new problems and spending more money.