Posts Tagged consolidation of emergency dispatching

Zion Fire Department news

Excerpts from the

Gurnee has signed off on a five-year deal to provide emergency dispatching services to Zion, a move expected to be financially beneficial to both towns.

Dispatching consolidation has been occurring in several suburbs because of a 2015 state law dictating that a 911 operation cannot serve fewer than 25,000 residents. Compliance must occur by July 1.

Zion will pay Gurnee a prorated share of a first-year base fee of $875,000 starting July 1 for dispatching the city’s fire and police calls through April 30, 2018. The contact will run from May 1 through April 30 in each of the final four years and require payments to increase annually by 3.5 percent or the Consumer Price Index, whichever is less.

In addition, Zion must place roughly $160,000 it receives annually from taxpayers for emergency dispatching into a fund controlled by a new joint 911 board with Gurnee.

Zion officials said they expect six or seven of the city’s dispatchers will be hired by Gurnee.

Gurnee representatives presented their offer to the Zion 911 board in April. Officials said the village’s dispatching operation is ready to grow and take on more clients such as Zion, which acknowledged a poor financial situation and an inability to upgrade 911 operations.

Elsewhere in Lake County, Lake Zurich in April added Wauconda’s police and fire emergency calls to a 911 client roster that already had Hawthorn Woods, Island Lake, Kildeer and Tower Lakes on it.

thanks Ron

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Lincolnwood Fire Department news

Excerpts from


For over 50 years the village has operated its own E9-1-1 dispatch center for emergency calls within the village’s corporate limits. Since 2002, fire and ambulance calls are handled by the Regional Emergency Dispatch (RED) Center, which services 15 municipalities. In 2015, the Illinois Legislature approved a law requiring that any Illinois municipality with a population less than 25,000 (Lincolnwood’s population is 12,500) which currently operates its own emergency dispatch center, must consolidate its these services or lose its Emergency 9-1-1 revenue. Last year Lincolnwood received almost $200,000 in 9-1-1 surcharge revenue.

The village completed a comprehensive review of options for consolidating dispatch services. This review included joining other existing dispatch consortiums or contracting with another municipality. After a thorough review, the village decided to contract with the Village of Skokie based on cost, quality of services provided, and the level of cooperation that already exists between the two communities.

Effective March 1, 2017, Skokie will begin providing E9-1-1 services to Lincolnwood residents and businesses. After March 1 when you call 9-1-1, the call will be answered at the Skokie Police Station. They will then dispatch the appropriate Lincolnwood police and/or fire personnel. There will be absolutely no delay in response time or any degradation of service from that which previously existed. Since Lincolnwood will no longer operate a dispatch center, there will no longer be personnel on-duty to receive the public at the police station after normal business hours: Monday – Friday: 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

thanks Ron

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New Lenox Fire Protection District news

Excerpts from the

New Lenox board trustees approved an intergovernmental agreement Monday to establish a new consolidated 911 center at Will County’s new sheriff’s department complex, which currently is under construction. The Laraway Communications Center, to be included in the new $30 million complex at Laraway Road and Route 52 in Joliet, is expected to serve 31 government agencies. These include New Lenox and the New Lenox Fire Protection District, as well as Romeoville, Frankfort, the county’s sheriff’s department and the agencies served by the EASCOM center.

Heading the new center will be Brad Veerman, who currently is director of the Lincolnway Public Safety Communications Center, which at present services New Lenox. Lincolnway will close once the new center is operational.

The plans for the new center follow an unfunded state mandate effective at the beginning of last year requiring counties with populations between 250,000 and 1 million to consolidate and reduce dispatch centers by half. Will County will now have three centers, including the city of Joliet’s and WESCOM’s new Plainfield center.

Once approval is received from all interested parties, representatives from each of the agencies will meet Feb. 22 and elect an executive board, New Lenox Trustee Dave Smith said. Smith is chairman of the governance committee for the new entity and wrote its bylaws and the intergovernmental agreement.

The executive board will consist of seven members, including three representing police agencies, three representing fire agencies and a seventh member from the sheriff’s office, according to the agreement.

Smith said the village’s share of the annual $5.3 million budget will be $440,000, slightly more than its contribution to the Lincolnway center.

Each member agency’s share will be determined annually according to its volume of calls to the dispatch center. The center will house about 40 to 50 dispatchers and all 31 agencies are expected to be on board before the February meeting.

thanks Dennis

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State mandated consolidation of 911 dispatch centers

Excerpts from the

A plan to transfer Winnetka’s 911 dispatch service to the Village of Glenview, along with those of Kenilworth, Northfield, and Glencoe, has moved forward, now that all four communities have officially directed their staff to begin negotiations with Glenview.

Winnetka Police Chief Patrick Kreis told Winnetka council members who approved negotiations at their Aug. 16 meeting that village residents would see no change to the service they get when calling a 911 dispatcher, nor would they see a change in their non-emergency communications with the department.

In fact, Kreis said, having access to a larger consolidated center with more staff could actually deliver emergency services faster, by allowing one dispatcher to take information while another dispatches officers.

A state law passed in July 2015 directs small communities across Illinois to consolidate 911 dispatch centers in order to help standardize 911 systems. In Cook County, consolidation is mandated for all communities with fewer than 25,000 people, and is supposed to be completed by July 2017.

Shortly after the legislation passed, Winnetka, Glencoe, Kenilworth, and Northfield, each of which has fewer than 25,000 people and all of whose police or public safety departments already operate on the same radio network, hired California-based Matrix Consulting Group to analyze the best way the municipal quartet could consolidate.

Matrix consultants narrowed the options to the communities creating their own so-called public safety answering point center, or PSAP, or contracting for dispatch services with another community.

Kreis said the study showed contracting with Glenview – which already serves several other communities, including Highland Park, Lake Forest, and Lake Bluff from two dispatch centers – would be the most efficient and least costly way to meet state requirements.

According to Matrix’s figures, the overall cost to start an independent four-town dispatch center, including one-time capital costs and hiring of extra personnel, would be about $2.6 million, compared to roughly $2.3 million to contract with Glenview. The operational portion of that would be about $1.5 million if the four communities went it alone, compared to about $1.2 million under a contract with Glenview, Kreis said and Winnetka’s annual cost savings would eventually be about $152,000.

Matrix’s report recommended a cost-sharing formula in which 20 percent of each year’s annual cost would come from a flat fee divided equally among the communities. Forty percent would be based on each community’s population, and a final 40 percent would be based on each community’s call and other service volumes.

The Matrix report states that under that formula, Winnetka would pay 34 percent, or $409,516 of the estimated $1.2 million in operational costs; Glencoe would pay 28 percent, or $346,144; Northfield would pay 25 percent, or $305,650; and Kenilworth would pay 13 percent, or $160,308.

One of the toughest parts of the changeover would be the loss of some highly skilled and respected dispatchers, Kreis said. Although some dispatchers will be retained to handle some administrative duties, he said “there will be job losses.”

Kenilworth Police Chief David Miller said he believes Glenview would need to hire as many as five new dispatchers if it takes on service to the four communities.”Our hope and belief is that Glenview would consider dispatchers from our communities.”.


thanks Ron

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State mandated consolidation of 911 dispatch centers

Excerpts from the

Statewide consolidation of 911 emergency systems has been touted by supporters, including Gov. Bruce Rauner’s office, as a good thing, but leaders in Madison County aren’t so sure.

Numerous fire and police chiefs in the county have pushed back against the idea that consolidating individual systems to one statewide, comprehensive system — an effort that will force Madison County to reduce the number of public safety answering points (PSAPs) from 16 to eight — will create a better experience for residents. On the contrary, many local leaders see the effort as a move that will hurt both public safety and their departments’ bottom lines.

Illinois Public Act 099-0006 went into effect Jan. 1, 2016, giving the newly created Office of the Statewide 9-1-1 Administrator the task of developing, implementing, and overseeing a uniform statewide 911 system for all areas of the state outside of municipalities having a population over 500,000. Only Chicago is exempt from the statewide system.

As part of the state takeover, counties with more than 250,000 residents were ordered to put together a consolidation plan that would cut the number of PSAPs in their county by 50 percent. Earlier this year, Catherine Kelly, a spokeswoman for Gov. Rauner’s office, told the Belleville News-Democrat that consolidation was good for the state.

“Consolidation makes government more efficient and better uses taxpayer dollars, and this bill accomplishes that while increasing public safety,” Kelly told BND in February.

County leaders disagree. In 1989, Madison County residents voted to establish a 67-cent surcharge on phone lines that helps fund the county’s 911 system. In recent years, the county has worked to establish its Next Generation 911 system — an Internet Protocol (IP)-based system that allows digital information (e.g., voice, photos, videos, text messages) to flow seamlessly from the public, through the 911 network, and on to emergency personnel —which Madison County 9-1-1 Coordinator Terence McFarland called “state of the art.”

“From a public safety standpoint, we have a very good system right now,” East Alton Mayor Joe Silkwood said. “When people pick up the phone and they call 911, we get calls very efficiently and effectively to them.

The financial aspect of consolidating PSAPs has also created questions among police and fire chiefs in the county. Approximately 225 dispatchers are employed throughout the county’s 16 PSAPs, all of which are located within police department headquarters. Consolidation to a 911 center that dispatches calls for multiple municipalities would possibly include the loss of some jobs.

But Wood River Police Chief Otis Steward said dispatchers’ jobs extend beyond simply directing police officers or firefighters to locations. In Wood River, dispatchers also monitor prisoners in the city’s jail, enter warrants and more.

“(Dispatching) probably accounts for five percent of what they do,” Steward said. “So, we are not going to give up our dispatch to somewhere else, so when a citizen comes into our police department we have no one sitting there. If you’re willing to give up your dispatch to go to a consolidated center, then that’s fine. We are keeping our dispatch.”

Currently, dispatchers are paid by the city or department that employs them. The equipment, including computer-aided dispatch (CAD) systems and geographic information system (GIS) mapping, is paid for by the 911 phone surcharge.

If other police departments likewise keep their dispatchers — Bethalto Lt. Craig Welch and East Alton Chief Darren Carlton are among those who have also expressed an unwillingness to part with dispatchers in the event they lose their PSAP in consolidation — the effort would actually result in an increase in personnel costs. On whom that added cost would fall is among the questions local leaders have asked of state personnel, with little clarity.

As part of creating the statewide system, counties had until this past Thursday to submit consolidation plans or apply for a waiver for exemption for a period of time or, in some cases, permanently.

The Madison County Emergency Telephone System Board (ETSB) submitted a waiver asking for an additional year past the July 1, 2017 deadline for consolidation to be completed. The waiver will be reviewed by the Office of the Statewide 9-1-1 Administrator and will be granted or denied within 90 days of the request.

In the meantime, ETSB is planning to commission a study to better understand the feasibility of consolidation options. Per the waiver, the independent study will also examine the collective bargaining agreements between various communities and their employees, dispatch center improvement and impact costs, and more.

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Another municipality to outsource emergency dispatch services

My has an article about a decision to outsource the emergency dispatch for police and fire in Bolingbrook:

Bolingbrook’s police and fire dispatch services will be outsourced this fall.

The Bolingbrook Village Board voted Tuesday to approve an intergovernmental agreement with the Western Will County Communication Center (WESCOM) to take over the services, a move officials say will net the village a savings of $319,000 annually. WESCOM, considered a unit of local government, is a consolidated dispatch service with 19 member agencies across three counties, primarily Will County.

In addition to the savings, WESCOM offers better technology and a larger staff in the event of critical incidents, officials said. The move also follows the State of Illinois’ pro-consolidation stance, according to Bolingbrook Deputy Police Chief Tom Ross.

The agreement calls for the Village of Bolingbrook to pay WESCOM $1.13 million for its first year of membership. That figure is based on a projected number of calls the police and fire departments receive annually. The following years’ fees will be based on call volume as well.

Bolingbrook’s 14 full-time dispatchers and two supervisors will be offered jobs at WESCOM, according to Steve Rauter, executive director of WESCOM.

“We’ve outstretched our hand to take as many of them as Bolingbrook can provide,” Rauter said. “We haven’t heard from all of them yet but several have applied and they seem pretty excited to be coming here.” Any Bolingbrook employees hired on at WESCOM would bring accruals with them, Rauter said, including longevity level for salary purposes, years toward pension and some comp time.

Both entities’ employees are represented by unions. Currently, the 16 Bolingbrook dispatch employees are represented by AFSCME Council 31. WESCOM employees are represented by the Metropolitan Alliance of Police.

thanks Ron

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Glenview to take over other towns (more)

The Chicago Tribune has an article about the new dispatching services for Highland Park:

Before last week, Highland Park City Council members said, they believed they would save upward of $250,000 a year by consolidating emergency dispatch services with Glenview.

But recently they were shocked to learn they might not save money at all. At a recent meeting, Finance Director Nikki Larson said the savings looked more like $5,000 over five years given the latest cost estimates from Glenview – and undetermined variables in service could actually wind up costing Highland Park more.

“Basically, it would cost us more to consolidate?” Mayor Nancy Rotering asked Larson. “As it stands today – yes,” Larson replied. “That makes no sense,” Rotering said.

After that meeting, Highland Park and Glenview officials seemed both befuddled and a bit miffed by what exactly happened to those projected savings. But Highland Park will continue to attempt a negotiation with Glenview that will make sense for all parties involved, officials said, while also considering other consolidation options.

In January, the City Council approved entering into negotiations with Glenview, which was to handle police and fire dispatch services for Highland Park, Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, while operating out of the Highland Park police station. Like other shared services among municipalities, the idea was to save money while maintaining high levels of service. The consolidation was initially projected to save Highland Park, Lake Forest and Lake Bluff a combined $4.5 million over five years.

Matrix Consulting Group, a public safety consulting firm, conducted a study of various cost-saving scenarios and presented findings to officials from the four towns in December.

At [ a] recent meeting, City Manager David Knapp explained that some of [a] $1.1 million [funding] request is a result of necessary technology improvements that would be needed with or without consolidation. He also said it’s possible that Matrix overestimated savings and Glenview underestimated costs.

Brent Reynolds, Glenview’s director of public safety support services, said he was “uncomfortable” with the notion that Glenview’s numbers have somehow changed. But additional technology enhancements were added into the cost based on previous discussions with Highland Park, Reynolds said.

About $354,000 in improvements were added in for Highland Park’s share of the cost to upgrade the radio system infrastructure, Reynolds said, adding “dual redundancy dispatch equipment” and effectively allowing the dispatch centers in Highland Park and Glenview to back each other up seamlessly.

Based on the consolidation formula, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff and Highwood would share an additional $354,000 of the improvement costs, Reynolds said, and Glenview would pay about $416,000.

In Lake Forest, Deputy Police Chief Karl Walldorf said the city is still in negotiations as to how much it would pay Glenview for taking on the duties, but initial figures predict Lake Forest will save about $1.9 million over five years.

That number doesn’t include the savings Lake Forest would realize if it doesn’t have to upgrade antiquated dispatch radio equipment, Walldorf said.

Earlier articles on the consolidation are HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

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Glenview dispatch to take over other towns

From the Village of Glenview Report:

The Village of Glenview entered into seven-year intergovernmental agreements with the cities of Highland Park and Lake Forest and the Village of Lake Bluff to provide public safety dispatch services to begin by September 1, 2014.

Glenview will operate two dispatch centers, with the primary center at the Glenview Police Department and the secondary center at the Highland Park Police Department, with full redundancy between the two centers. To facilitate the dispatch services, the 2014 budget was amended by $2.298 million, which will be offset by revenues from the dispatch services agreements. Agreements were authorized for capital improvements to consolidate and service the new  dispatch customers.

The City of Highwood is also considering entering into an intergovernmental agreement with Glenview for public safety dispatch services.


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New dispatch center in Lake County

The Vernon Hills Review has an article which states that:

A new joint dispatching center at the Vernon Hills Police Department will …, the Vernon Hills emergency communications center, will provide dispatching services for Libertyville police and fire… in addition to Vernon Hills police and the Countryside Fire  Protection District. Libertyville will no longer operate a police and fire dispatch center at the Libertyville Police Department.

“We’re going to be able to reduce our costs and improve our service at the same time,”  said [Libertyville Fire Chief Rich Carani]. “It’s a win-win situation for the residents. It’s eventually going to improve service because we’re going to be able to have better training and better equipment by sharing the cost.”

Libertyville officials have estimated that the village could save as much as $1.5 million over five years by combining dispatching services with Vernon Hills.

Libertyville had seven dispatchers … two were hired by Vernon Hills … at the new communications center, three were reassigned to other positions in the Libertyville Police Department [while] two others were not retained and are leaving the department.

The Countryside Fire Protection District, which provides services to Vernon Hills, Long Grove, Hawthorn Woods, Kildeer, and unincorporated areas of Lake County, consolidated its fire dispatch services with Vernon Hills in September 2010.

Countryside Fire Chief Jeff Steingart said the merger of Countryside’s dispatching services with Vernon Hills two years ago was a “great move” and he thinks the addition of Libertyville will provide even more efficiency and cooperation between departments.

“We were already working very closely with the Libertyville Police Department,” he said. “This is just a great partnership that will aid in response to emergencies by bringing everybody together in an efficient manner.”

In addition to Vernon Hills hiring two emergency dispatchers from Libertyville to handle police calls, Countryside Fire will add two new dispatchers at the Vernon Hills communications center to cover the increased volume of fire calls from Libertyville. Libertyville will pay an annual assessment to cover its portion of the cost of staffing, operations and equipment at the Vernon Hills communications center.

The entire article can be found HERE.

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