October 11, 2012 | Back to: Local News

Officials: Dispatch consolidation a win for the county

The three incorporated cities in Nevada County have now officially reached an agreement with county law enforcement to consolidate dispatch services.

The Nevada City Police Department currently contracts with the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office for dispatch, meaning the change will not affect the logistics of the department, Nevada City Manager David Brennan said Wednesday. However, 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, Brennan said.

The consolidation means that Grass Valley and Truckee will close down their dispatch centers.

“All agencies that are involved in this dispatch center will see some type of financial gain,” said Sheriff Keith Royal at the Tuesday Board of Supervisors regular meeting. “At this point in time, we will generate on an annual basis somewhere around $600,000 in savings. It’s the first year, and we truly think we will see additional savings.”

The savings will be passed on to all the involved agencies, Royal said.

The consolidation will introduce new efficiencies and enhance public and officer safety, Royal said, because everybody will be on the same frequency and communications will be more streamlined.

The Grass Valley Police Department will save about $163,000 per year with Truckee saving about $185,000 annually, according to supporting documents.

NCSO itself will realize “several hundred thousand dollars in savings,” Royal said, which will allow the sheriff’s office to keep the NCSO substation on Donner Pass Road open.

“(Keeping the jail in Truckee open) was a critical issue because its serves the eastern region of the county,” Royal said. Placer County Sheriff’s Office also utilizes the jail to book suspects and contracts with the NCSO for its use.

Usually, the substation employs six dispatchers for Truckee Police. Recently, however, it has been operated by four dispatchers due to two vacant positions, Royal said.

As for the future of those four positions, Royal said one dispatcher will be transferred to NCSO in Nevada City and another will retire, while the other two have secured other employment — one in the private sector and the other with the Placer County Sheriff’s Office.

As for Grass Valley’s dispatch center, it will lose four full-time and two part-time dispatchers. However, the new NCSO dispatch center will require new employees and an effort is underway to transfer some of the dispatchers from GVPD to the new center, Royal said.

GVPD Chief John Foster said for outside people the transition is seamless but said it will be tough on the department to lose valuable employees who are considered family.

“These decisions involve people and change,” Foster said. “From the citizens’ perspective, it will be pretty seamless, but from the internal perspective, challenges will take place.”

The dispatchers at GVPD will lose ancillary benefits, such as seniority and shift preference, Foster said.

There is no undue concern over a loss of response time due to the consolidation, Foster said, although there may be a brief transitional period where officers must adapt to the communication changes.

Truckee Police Chief Adam McGill told the Sierra Sun he expects better response times as a result of the change in dispatch center.

“We hope to experience some enhanced service because the main center has more than one dispatcher working at a time, so in a crisis or unusually busy period, the dispatchers have more resources to draw upon,” McGill said in a previous interview. “I assure the public that when they call 911, their call will be answered promptly and professionally,” McGill continued. “A Truckee police officer will continue to respond in a timely fashion as we always have … The dispatcher plays a tremendous role in emergency response, and their part cannot be minimized, but it is the police officer who responds to help you.”

The total annual estimated cost of operating the dispatch center is about $1.7 million, 80 percent of which is allocated toward personnel and the remaining 20 percent dedicated to equipment maintenance and purchase, Royal said.

The board of supervisors unanimously passed the resolution, establishing the consolidated dispatch center.

“I want to publicly thank (Sheriff Royal) … for the role that (he’s) played and for the relationships (he has) struck and for being the caretaker and bringing this before us today,” said Chairman Ted Owens, who represents eastern Nevada County.

To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email mrenda@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4239.

Matthew Renda

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The Union Updated Oct 11, 2012 10:20AM Published Oct 15, 2012 03:04PM Copyright 2012 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.