When police officers in Grass Valley broadcasted a series of “1010” calls across their radios Thursday morning, indicating they were no longer in service, it didn’t sound that uncommon — until the dispatcher who coordinates that communication also signed off.
With dispatcher Trisha Bush’s last broadcast, Grass Valley’s police department shut down its internal dispatch at 7 a.m. Thursday to outsource the service to the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office.
As the sheriff’s office in Nevada City took over the dispatch from Grass Valley, it meant that all of Nevada County’s local law enforcement had consolidated dispatching under one roof — a move all three agencies say will save each entity thousands of dollars.
Nevada City and Truckee were already dispatching through the sheriff’s office when Grass Valley decided to dissolve its service Sept. 25. Along with the move, the sheriff’s office closed its Truckee substation’s dispatch in favor of funding a jail in the east county.
“We’re still going through a little bit of configuration issues to make sure everything is transferring right,” said Capt. Shannan Moon, who was overseeing the sheriff’s dispatch center Thursday.
“There is an increase in calls for service, but right now, everybody’s calls are being answered, and officers are getting the information they need on their radios,” Moon said.
The merger means more dispatchers at the sheriff’s dispatch center, going from approximately two or three dispatchers at one time to four Thursday.
“All agencies can communicate faster now. Before, we had to scan frequencies to hear other agencies. Now we’re all on one channel,” Moon said. “If there is an in-progress call, we can hear it immediately as the call comes in.”
But the transition was not without its growing pains.
“We’re having some challenges getting the radios to work properly and computers to work,” said GVPD Chief John Foster. “We’re transitioning; it’s coming along fine. It’s just got a few hiccups along the way.”
Grass Valley’s dispatch equipment will be kept around as a backup dispatch center, Foster said.
Grass Valley’s most lamented aspect of the merger is losing its four full-time dispatchers and two part-timers, Foster has said. It also will only staff its front desk during regular business hours.
However, GVPD plans to use its $163,000 in annual savings to fund the addition of three positions, including a clerk to continue to staff the department’s public office during regular business hours, a sergeant position and a vacant officer position.
Nevada City will recognize an immediate savings of $20,000 for the current fiscal year and will avoid additional costs in the coming fiscal year, which were anticipated to be in the range of $30,000, according to city officials.
Truckee stands to save close to $200,000 with the consolidation.
“We’re absolutely thrilled that it has happened,” Moon said. “For being halfway through the day, we’ve experienced no major issues. Officers are doing their jobs, and communication is better.”
Even with the savings, both Grass Valley and Nevada City are asking voters to approve sales tax measures in next week’s election to bolster funding to public safety, among other priorities.
Without the additional funding, Grass Valley police anticipate a reduction in their ability to provide services. Residents seeking service — on incidents such as petty thefts and shoplifting involving suspects who cannot be positively identified, present false identification or are uncooperative — should expect a limited response by officers, GVPD officials have said.
Other low-priority incidents that stand to receive limited responses include animal control issues, parking complaints and civil issues, such as custody exchanges and property removals.
Requests for police services involving property damage, vandalism, vehicle tampering, hit-and-run accidents, custody order violations, harassing phone calls, lost property and thefts not in progress or where the suspect is unknown stand to no longer receive officer response but instead would be reported through the department’s website, www.gvpd.net, or by completing a counter report at the police station during regular business hours.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email email@example.com or call (530) 477-4236.