The agenda for the Sylvania Township trustees’ meeting listed the item as the “Final Briefing” on Lucas County’s proposal to consolidate different 911 operations into one agency may have been the last, but it wasn’t brief.
At the outset, Chairman John Crandall postponed hearing some routine agenda matters and canceled a planned executive session when it was clear several people wanted to speak either for or against the plan to merge the county’s six primary dispatch centers into one independent agency.
Matt Heyrman, director of public safety for Lucas County, highlighted points made in a 44-page plan which he said will lead to a more efficient means of call-taking and dispatching than the current system.
Mr.Heyrman stressed that the proposed agency will not be part of an existing government, but will be an independent agency and individual jurisdictions will have joint control.
By consolidating operations, he said, there is a projected cost savings of about $5.2 million county-wide with a savings of almost $746,000 for Sylvania Township.
Maumee police officer Cory Henson said he questions how the proposal can suggest specific savings. “If you don’t know salaries and other costs, how can you know savings?”
He added that, “I don’t see a lot of concern for the human element,” in the plan.
Officials have said that all of those currently employed in 911 operations will be employed under the new system But Maumee Police Chief David Tullis said his dispatchers dedicated hard-working employees and, “we are throwing them into an uncertain environment,” where they may have lower pay, different working conditions and changes in medical coverage and retirement plans.
Steve Salander, active in a citizens’ group opposed to consolidation praised the current practice of dispatching and noted that in a recent bank robbery in Oregon, police were dispatched in only 28 second from when notification of the robbery was received.
Stacy Mitchell, supervisor of 911 services for the Toledo Police Department said that example supports a consolidation of dispatch agencies.
Ms. Mitchell said a Toledo police car was within a block or two of the bank robbery and better situated to hinder the escape, but wasn’t made aware of the robbery until later. After the meeting she added, “I don’t even want to go there,” when considering what might have happened if the Toledo police officer become involved in what he or she considered a traffic stop, but the car was being driven by an armed bank robber.
Trustees took no action after the approximately three-hour meeting, but Mr. Crandall said he had been asked by the county for a decision by the end of September.
The ultimate decision with whether or not consolidation takes place will be up to a five-member planning committee. The committee members will be the president of the Lucas County commissioners, Toledo’s mayor, a trustee from the county’s largest township, which is Sylvania Township, one person to represent the other townships and a mayor from the other municipalities in the county.
If a majority of that five-member committee approves of consolidation then every community has to participate.
The procedure is spelled out in state law and can’t be changed at the local level.
Written by: Mike Jones, Public Information Officer
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