Posts Tagged Oak Lawn’s emergency Communications Director Kathy Hansen

Oak Lawn EEC Director leaves

An article last week announced the resignation from the Oak Lawn Emergency Communications Center:

Kathy Hansen abruptly retired from her post as director of Oak Lawn’s emergency communications center, after helping to implement a third-party staffing agreement amid the glare of village politics. The village announced her departure Friday afternoon. Hansen cited family obligations as the reason for her decision to leave the village, according to village news advisory.

Hansen rose through the ranks to director of Oak Lawn’s 911 call center and was a 20-year employee of the village. As a member the village’s public safety management team, she was involved in a controversial decision to outsource the union 911-dispatchers to a private vendor.

Former dispatchers publicly blamed Hansen for the department’s growing budget deficits, but she was always backed by Oak Lawn’s village manager and most village board members.

Hansen’s second in command, Richard Bessette, was immediately appointed as emergency communications center director. Bessette is a nine-year information technology specialist and worked often for Hansen as a project manager.

Village Manager Larry Deetjen praised Hansen as a “true public servant” who embraced technology and commitment to serving the village’s municipal 911 customers.  No one on the village’s executive team or village board forced her to leave, Deetjen said. He described Hansen’s exit as a retirement and not a resignation, even though she is too young to retire.  “Kathy walked out of here on her own terms. She didn’t ask for severance” Deetjen said.

thanks Dan

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Oak Lawn outsourcing of emergency dispatch – update

The Village of Oak Lawn outsourced their emergency dispatch center recently.  CBS Chicago has an article which mentions complaints that have been brought to the village board.

During this week’s meeting of the Oak Lawn Village Board, trustee Bob Streit (3rd) brought up concerns about the emergency call center, citing a letter from Evergreen Park regarding concerns over “a series of incidents in the last several weeks” involving alleged poor service.

Oak Lawn’s emergency dispatchers handle calls for several communities, including Evergreen Park. The center was privatized this year in a cost-cutting move and many of the dispatchers lost their jobs. A letter from Evergreen Park attorney Michael Cainkar to dispatch center director Kathy Hansen expressed concern over responses to calls, including one about a man with a gun, information that allegedly was not included in what a dispatcher told police officers.

In the Feb. 24 letter, Cainkar said the “recent performance poses a direct threat to both public and officer safety.” Streit agreed, saying: “There’s more. This is the tip of the iceberg.”

During the board meeting, Streit said he and other board members were not told about the complaints by Village Manager Larry Deetjen and Mayor Sandra Bury. “This board is supposed to set policy, but it’s impossible to set policy when complaints and issues are hidden from the board. There is no excuse, especially when it comes to the safety of the public and our residents,” Streit said during the meeting.

Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton, however, said Thursday that he’s pleased with the new system and is certain problems will be worked out. “It’s not a big deal at this point,” Sexton said Thursday.

“Let me assure you that the men and women of our emergency dispatch center and our contractor, Norcomm, have nothing but the safety of this community at heart,” Deetjen said during the board meeting. “We handle over 100,000 calls a year (for several communities including Oak Lawn and Evergreen Park). We do an outstanding job, but we’re not perfect. We weren’t perfect before the change.” In previous years, issues were handled within the rules of a labor contract with workers in the 911 center “and it was never publicly discussed,” he said.

“Those are the facts because men and women are human. Have you ever listened to an emergency call? Often, words aren’t clear,” Deetjen said, adding “don’t let anyone up here scare or misinform you.” “If there were an increase in instances, if there were a change in patterns, we don’t see that,” Bury said. “To imply there were no mistakes with the former system … you’re seeing it made into something political and that’s really a shame.

thanks Dan

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Oak Lawn to outsource emergency dispatch services

CBS Chicago has an article about the decision by Oak Lawn to outsource their emergency dispatch services:

Oak Lawn’s 911 center is going private this week, the Southtown Star is reporting.

Village manager Larry Deetjen announced at last week’s village board meeting that the center will be run by a private company as of Wednesday, now that a tentative agreement has been reached between the village and the union for the dispatchers.

“In essence, the agreement reached will settle any and all disputes and claims between the parties,” Deetjen said, referring to two unfair labor practice charges filed by Chapter 351 of the Metropolitan Alliance of Police against the village.

“We had an excellent mediator from the Illinois Labor Relations Board who listened to the facts. That’s what it ought to be, labor and management talking to each other,” Deetjen said, adding that he could not discuss details of the agreement until after Chapter 351’s board approves the settlement.

The details are expected to be disclosed at the Jan. 28 village board meeting, according to the village.

During last week’s board meeting, Trustee Bob Streit (3rd) expressed concern about how many of the 20 dispatchers will be retained by Norcomm Public Safety Communications. Deetjen said some would stay on but he did not know exactly how many. “Some will continue on as employees of Norcomm, and others will accept positions in the public or private sector at their own choice,” Deetjen said. “It will still remain a regional emergency call center.”

Besides Oak Lawn, the 911 center handles police calls for Bridgeview, Burbank and Evergreen Park and fire calls for Bedford Park and the Central Stickney Fire Protection District.

thanks Dan

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Village of Oak Lawn considers outsourcing dispatching (more)

More on the previous post about the Village of Oak Lawn’s Emergency Communications Center from a very lengthy article in the Oak Lawn Leaf.

It appears the Village of Oak Lawn will move to outsource the 911 Emergency Dispatchers to a private company on Tuesday November 26th, despite pleas by the emergency operator’s union, the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, to honor its existing contract. Oak Lawn’s Village Manager Larry Deetjen has recommended that the Village outsource the 911 emergency dispatchers to Norcomm Public Safety Communications, based in Leyden Township.   The village’s four supervisors in the department would be retained by the company.  The 20 union dispatchers would be terminated, but allowed to apply for their positions at a reduced salary.  They would also lose their pensions in the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund.

According to Ronald Cicinelli, the attorney representing the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, the Village of Oak Lawn contacted the union only 38 days after agreeing to the 2012 contract and threatened to outsource the jobs unless the union agreed to concessions because of a “financial crisis”.

Cicinelli, in response to inquiries from the Oak Lawn Leaf, said that the Village of Oak Lawn Attorneys contacted the union “saying, in essence, that the village would have to outsource dispatching services if the union did not agree to help with the dire financial situation that it had not disclosed until approving the aforementioned labor contract.”

According to Cicinelli, the union officials and village officials met and the village attached a dollar amount to the financial crisis that the village claimed totaled $1.l million dollars.  “The telecommunicators (union members) were asked to submit concessions that total $369,000.00 to help alleviate the crisis, with the remainder of the shortage being rectified by increasing the costs to the towns served by the center,” said Cicinelli…. the Village of Oak Lawn reportedly sent the other municipalities it serves through the 911 operating system, invoices with the increased costs.

The negotiations broke down further according to the union when the Village informed the union that the entire 3.8 million dollar budget would be spent by the end of July.  Cicinelli claimed that “it is obvious that cost overruns can be attributed, in part, to overtime created by supervisory personnel who no longer count as working dispatchers and the failure to replace three dispatchers who either retired or resigned.” According to Violetto’s letter, the Village’s Emergency Communications Director, Kathy Hansen requested in the last contract that the three dispatchers be called team leaders and not be counted in the manpower numbers to operate the room.  Violetto claims that the three team leaders are now administrative help to Hansen and questioned the need for three people to provide administrative help to the director.  The savings in returning the three supervisors to the manpower count would save the village $152,232.20 a year according to the union. Hansen stated department overtime through August 2013 stood at $124,855.  The union has claimed that the overtime is attributed in part to overtime created by the new supervisory personnel and the failure of the village to replace three open dispatcher positions.

At the November 6, 2013 budget meeting, Oak Lawn’s emergency communications director Kathy Hansen said that due to revenue lost from state-regulated phone surcharges as users switch to cell phones, the department is losing revenue while expenses continue to rise. Industry experts estimate that the total phones used in any municipality are split with 70% cell phone use and 30% landline use.

Currently, the telecommunications tax is only assessed on landlines.  The village received over one million dollars in the telecommunications tax last year.  If the tax is extended by the federal government as expected in the summer, the revenue to the village would exceed $2.3 million dollars thereby solving the problem. By outsourcing to Norcomm, the village claims it would save $446,000 a year for the next two years.

thanks Dan

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Village of Oak Lawn considers outsourcing dispatching

An article in the Oak Lawn Patch outlines Oak Lawn officials looking to close their emergency communications center and contract with NORCOMM:

Oak Lawn’s village officials appear to be moving full steam ahead in shopping for a private contractor to take over the Oak Lawn’s Emergency Communications Center.

A not unexpected bombshell at the Nov. 6 special budget meeting was a proposal to outsource the village’s 911 emergency dispatchers. The move would retain managers but 20 civilian police jobs that are currently under a union contract would be outsourced.

Oak Lawn’s emergency communications director Kathy Hansen said that due to revenue lost from state-regulated hardline surcharges as users switch to cell phones, the department is losing revenue while expenses continue to rise.

In addition to Oak Lawn, the village’s emergency communications center also dispatches 911 calls for five police departments and ten fire departments in the south suburbs.

The village has set its sights on Norcomm Public Safety Communications, based in Leyden Township. The company was established in 1994 as Illinois’s first 911 call center serving police, fire, and emergency medical dispatch for municipalities and fire districts.

By outsourcing to Norcomm, the village would save $893,000 over the next two years that could be reinvested in mandated next-generation technologies, such as the ability to receive emergency text messages, Hansen said.

The company would also lease Oak Lawn’s state-of-the-art emergency center, bringing in additional revenue.

Village Manager Larry Deetjen added that Norcomm offers a competitive wage and benefits package, and there would more opportunities for advancement.

Oak Lawn’s emergency dispatchers would get first dibs interviewing and competing with other applicants for their current jobs. Instead of the Metropolitan Alliance of Police’s union pension plan, the privatized dispatchers would participate in Norcomm’s corporate pension plan.

“I would suspect a good number of those 20 slots would want to continue, even though it’s another company,” Deetjen said. “They’ll have the same work site and same uniforms. The benefits are competitive.”

Hansen stated department overtime through August 2013 stood at $124,855, with $55,000 going to one individual.

Without overtime, the top-paid emergency dispatchers earned in the $69,000 range. Hansen also told village board members to add 40-percent in benefits to those salaries, or approximately $28,000.

Hansen explained the savings came from different salary and benefit packages for employees.

“They’re more market driven and comparable to other dispatch centers around us and we would have more dispatchers,” she said.

Deetjen added that Oak Lawn has been paying roughly 55 percent of the costs to run the emergency dispatch center, but under the new format, “Oak Lawn’s real fair share would be 45 percent.”

Deetjen also added, that “the door is always open” to union leadership should emergency dispatchers desire to continue negotiations to helping rein in expenses, including forging salary increases and other adjustments to keep their jobs.

“It’s a free market out there and [communities] are talking to other potential servers,” Deetjent said, “including other competing centers and private vendors like Norcomm.”

thanks Dan

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