Excerpts from the RBLandmark.com:

The Illinois General Assembly has given small towns all across the state an order to consolidate their emergency police and fire dispatch centers by mid-2017, forcing municipalities to scramble to either join existing dispatch centers or form their own.

And by July 1 the state wants written plans for just how such consolidation is going to be handled — a task that has brought Brookfield, North Riverside and Riverside together to form a joint dispatch center.

Tentatively called WC3, the joint dispatch center for all three villages will be located inside the North Riverside Police Department and will be governed by a board of directors that will hire an executive director to manage operations.

Earlier this month, all three villages signed off on a consulting contract to hire Northbrook-based GovHR USA for $25,000 to assist them in implementing the plan.  Representatives from all three villages, including village managers, police and fire chiefs, and dispatch supervisors have been meeting weekly with GovHR USA consultant Paul Harlow, who formerly served as village manager and public safety director of Glencoe.

Last summer, the General Assembly passed the consolidated dispatch law bill which  mandates that all towns with populations less than 25,000 consolidate services to reach that population. The cost to create the joint dispatch center would be borne equally by all three municipalities.

There are many moving parts to the consolidation process. In addition to physically upgrading the North Riverside dispatch center to include a third position and some new equipment, Brookfield is not presently on the same dispatch radio frequency as Riverside and North Riverside, and Brookfield belongs to a different fire department mutual aid division.

In addition, the records software used by North Riverside and Brookfield is not used by Riverside, and all dispatchers will need to be trained to provide what’s called Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD), which is a higher level of dispatch service that’s being mandated along with the consolidation. While some of the dispatchers currently employed have been trained in EMD, none of the three villages presently provides EMD service because it requires a second dispatcher to be on hand 24 hours a day.

All three towns say the full-time dispatchers they currently employ will be retained, but the future of part-timers is not so clear. Eventually, however, the dispatchers will go from being municipal employees to being employees of WC3, and a new collective bargaining unit will be created for those employees, who are now members of three separate units.

One of the other changes that will come as dispatch services consolidate is that Brookfield and Riverside police will no longer have personnel at their front desks 24 hours a day. During the overnight hours, North Riverside will have dispatch personnel available to handle walk-ins, but some sort of phone/video system will need to be installed at Brookfield and Riverside to allow anyone walking up to the front doors of those departments to reach a dispatcher in North Riverside.

In June, all three municipalities will sign an intergovernmental agreement to set up the WC3 board, which will include officials who have already been meeting informally with the consultant.