Chesterton Tribune



Valpo Police Chief picked to lead merged County E911-Emergency Management department

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The Porter County Commissioners will merge the E-911 Communications Center and the County’s Emergency Management Agency as part of their effort to make Porter County Government more efficient.

“What we are doing is reorganizing the two agencies that are responsible for emergency communication. It makes sense for us to make sure these agencies are communicating at a level that is expected,” said Commissioner Jim Biggs, R-North.

Biggs said at Tuesday’s County Council meeting that the Commissioners have hired Valparaiso Police Chief Mike Brickner to head what will be called the Porter County Emergency Communications and Public Safety Department.

The County Council approved the Commissioners’ request 7-0 to set Brickner’s salary at $90,000, compared to the $68,000 salary of outgoing E-911 Director C.J. Wittmer.

Biggs said the decision to reorganize came about after receiving complaints from different police and fire departments about communication problems involving multiple agencies.

“We felt a total reorganization was in order. Communication is paramount. That is what was lacking,” Biggs told the Council.

The Commissioners hired P4 Global, a strategic security company based in Chicago, to consult on the reorganization and search for a new director. Biggs said 13 applicants were screened from around the nation and Brickner, who has 20 years’ experience in police administration in Porter County, was found to be the best candidate.

Along with improving communication, Biggs said one of the goals in the merger is cost efficiency. He said Brickner will head the department, essentially leading both E-911 and EMA operations, and a deputy will be hired for EMA instead of a separate director.

Brickner will begin his post on Aug. 21. Wittmer has submitted his resignation to the Commissioners, effective the same day, Biggs said.

The department will be formed sometime this year, Biggs said. Discussions are currently going on about what the personnel structure will be. It is not yet known how many employees the department will have, Biggs added.

Council member Jeff Larson, R-at large, was part of the selection committee for the new director and said Brickner was one of the applicants who “were definitely qualified.”

Other Council members like Dan Whitten, D-at large, questioned the salary as they prefer increases to be addressed only during budget hearings. Biggs said P4 Global advised that someone with the skill set the Commissioners wanted would usually receive a salary between $115,000 to $148,000. The Commissioners and Brickner agreed to $90,000, Biggs said.



Posted 7/26/2017




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