Chesterton Tribune

 

 

Chesterton Police Commission opposes 911 merger with county

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By KEVIN NEVERS

In 2014 the 911 dispatch functions of the Chesterton and Porter police departments were merged into a single entity--the Duneland Regional Emergency Dispatch Operations Center, housed at the Porter PD--following the enactment of a state law limiting the number of “public safety answering points” (PSAPs) to two per county.

Prior to that legislation, there had been three PSAPs in Porter County: the CPD’s, the PPD’s, and the Porter County E911 Center.

The reason given at the time for the merger, and against the consolidation of the two departments’ 911 functions with the E911 Center, according to a joint memo prepared by Chesterton Police Chief Dave Cincoski and Porter Police Chief Jamie Spanier: “The E911 employees and administrative staff, as well as county officials, stated that they did not have the capacity to handle us. We were advised of numerous issues regarding missed calls, extended times for dispatching of emergency calls, providing improper addresses or locations for emergency calls, dispatching the wrong department to emergency calls, and the list went on.”

In March 2018, however, the CPD and PPD were approached by Porter County Executive Director of Public Safety Mike Brickner and the E911 Director Rob Lanchsweerdt, who invited Cincoski and Spanier to consider again the consolidation of the Duneland Regional Emergency Dispatch Operations Center with the County E911 Dispatch Center.

After investigating the details of that offer, Cincoski and Spanier are recommending to their respective town councils that the Duneland Center remain an independent entity, and at its meeting Thursday evening the Chesterton Police Commission voted unanimously to adopt a resolution endorsing that recommendation.

In their joint memo, Cincoski and Spanier gave these rationale for their recommendation:

* “We believe that the quality of service our residents receive from our professional dispatch personnel is far and above what the county dispatchers can provide, based on knowledge of our community and residents and the volume of calls received. . . . Our dispatchers are familiar with our ‘regulars,’ our citizens, our municipal layouts, and the intricacies and idiosyncrasies of our residents and communities. They are able to take the time to be cordial, empathetic, and detailed with our callers. If we merged with the county, we anticipated an automated response along the lines of ‘What do you need?’ and ‘Where is your need?’” We do not feel that the callers will receive a ‘personal touch’ when they call for services.”

* “In doing our homework and investigation, we have multiple and significant concerns with any type of shared law enforcement radio system, either a one-channel or a two-channel system. While it is being touted as actually increasing officer safety, we believe that it will be an inhibitor. Multiple, or all, law enforcement agencies sharing a frequency will lead to an obvious increase in radio traffic.”

* Both patrol officers and dispatch personnel “overwhelmingly are of the opinion that we should remain on our own and merging or consolidating with County E911 would be a disservice to our residents and communities and possibly even an officer safety issue. . . . Additionally, to our knowledge, no county officials or E911 administrative officials have reached out or been in contact with Porter Council members.”

* “We know our fixed costs for maintaining our own center. We do not know what our future costs will be if, or when, we consolidate with the county. There has been much discussion back and forth about the options, but we are confident by our discussions that the costs of the E911 Center will in some form be passed on to the involved agencies. While there may be additional costs (pending legal rendering) assessed to staying on our own, we believe the additional upfront costs can be absorbed and the ongoing costs can fit into our respective department budgets.”

The County E911 Center has given the Chesterton and Porter town councils and PDs a deadline of Thursday, May 17, by which to decide for or against consolidation.

 

Posted 5/11/2018

 

 
 
 
 

 

 

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