Police Dispatchers: What Is Next?
It seems that social media is outraged over the rumor that Mayor George has fired local police dispatchers and gone with some group called “Chagrin Valley Dispatch.” That rumor is not true. Here is what I know to be true:
Counties failing to reduce their number of dispatch centers run the risk of losing state funding, money that helps fund CECOMS (Communications- Electronics Command) the group that answers and transfers 9-1-1 calls and provides 9-1-1 system software for local com- munities. That state funding pays for a large portion of our 9-1-1 services including equipment and employees. Cuyahoga County at one time was at over 48 units. The current goal is five.
Many on social media were upset over the idea that changing our dispatch system would mean having people unfamiliar with Lakewood’s streets directing calls. Something very few people understand is that when you call 9-1-1 from a cell phone, a majority of the time the call is answered at a dispatch office at Bedford Hospital, then routed to the correct city. So the City of Lakewood along with all others using the 9-1-1 system are already using the services of dispatchers that are outside Lakewood.
Under discussion is getting Chagrin Valley Dispatch to handle all westside 9-1-1 calls. In the coming weeks, the City of Lakewood will be forced to make the following decision: Go with the Western Suburbs, with whom we have spent decades building great working relationships, first with the Police Depart- ment with WEB (Westshore Enforcement Bureau), and then WestCom for Fire and Emergency Services. Or go it alone, with greatly reduced funding, and management issues.
As we went to press, North Olmsted had already placed the discussion on their City Council Docket. They are not part of the Westshore, but soon every city will be forced to decide how to handle the State mandate.
Currently Chagrin Valley Dispatch runs 9-1-1 services for over 30 cities in Cuyahoga county including the Metro-Parks and the County Sheriff. All the cities are happy with the service, though everyone admits hiccups. Our Fire Chief and Police Chief are in favor of the change.
Here is why we are talking about this now: Mayor George brought in our local dispatchers the moment serious talks were scheduled-- until then it was merely a topic that is often discussed. The dispatchers, not knowing the full story, went public with the information. It has spun out of control as often happens on social media which put the cart way in front of the horse. Next week, Mayor George begins formal talks with City Council, the Westshore Mayors, and others. Our current dispatchers have been assured jobs, pay raises, and full benefits.
Publisher, Lakewood Observer, Inc.