Law enforcement looks to merge dispatch services
September 29, 2012
All four of Nevada County's local law enforcement agencies are poised to consolidate their dispatch services under one roof, a move touted as a money saver.
"Dispatch is one area that makes a lot of sense," said Sheriff Keith Royal.
The plan calls for the Nevada County Sheriff's Office to handle emergency dispatch functions for Grass Valley, Truckee and Nevada City police departments at its Nevada City headquarters.
"You don't need the redundancy of having multiple dispatch centers," said Nevada City Police Department Chief Jim Wickham,
The sheriff's office and its nine-person dispatch center already handles Nevada City's police communication. The sheriff's office also maintains a substation on Donner Pass Road in eastern Nevada County, which traditionally has had about six employees providing dispatch for the Truckee Police Department.
Grass Valley has its own dispatch center, employing four full-time employees and two part-timers, according to the department.
Grass Valley City Council will consider approving the consolidated dispatch center at its meeting today.
If the agreement is reached by all four agencies, Grass Valley's budget for dispatch services would drop from $553,000 to maintain its own center to doling out $371,000 to the sheriff's office, according to the city's staff report.
"For me the hardest thing about this consolidation is that I have a dispatcher that has been here for 25 years," said Chief John Foster. "She now has to seek employment with the sheriff's office or be laid off."
On the other hand, with the $163,000 in annual savings, Grass Valley is proposing the addition of three positions, including a clerk to continue to staff the department's public office during regular business hours, Foster said.
"If we can have the same level of dispatch service and put another officer on the street, that is good thing for Grass Valley," said Dan Holler, Grass Valley's city manager.
A consolidation would also have the sheriff's office close its Truckee substation.
"We have the technology in place that allows us to dispatch from Nevada City any operating issues in Truckee," Royal said.
Truckee, which paid $564,157 of its nearly $4 million police budget in 2011 to the sheriff's office, stands to save nearly $200,000 if an agreement is reached.
Truckee Police Chief Adam McGill could not be reached for comment Monday.
Nevada City, which paid $128,544 to the sheriff's office in 2011, just renewed its $133,000 dispatch contract with the sheriff's office at a Sept. 12 City Council meeting. However, Nevada City Council is slated to review the consolidated proposal at Wednesday's meeting. If approved, Nevada City stands to save about $30,000 annually.
That savings would go toward offsetting the Nevada City police's budget deficit, which began the year $50,000 in the red, Wickham said.
"The reality of dispatching is that you call 911, and if the dispatchers do their job, they will get an officer there," Wickham said. "At the end of the day, I think the community will get a good deal out of this."
As for the sheriff's office, Royal said eliminating the Truckee dispatch center would allow him to efficiently staff to substations's jail, which acts as a temporary holding facility until inmates are transported to Nevada City.
"In the end, everybody comes out better financially," Royal said.
Grass Valley's city council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. today at city hall, located at 125 East Main St.
To see a copy of the staff report on dispatch services, visit http://www.TheUnion.com and click on this story.
Grass Valley City Council is also slated to discuss a further prohibition on smoking in public and dropping $400,000 to revamp the town's parking management.
The smoking measure would prohibit smoking on public property downtown, including sidewalks, streets and city parking lots. It would not, however, affect private property, Holler said.
But tobacco isn't the only thing Grass Valley is hoping to clean up downtown. If the council approves the $400,000 electronic-based paid parking management system, Holler said parking spots would be easier to find.
The system would allow downtown visitors to locate parking spots, pay for them and monitor their meter all from the convenience of their smart phone.
To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email email@example.com.
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