Published December 12, 2012
Clinton board to consider merging dispatch operations with county
By Nico Rubello firstname.lastname@example.org
CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Clinton Township may be the next municipality to decide to consolidate emergency dispatch services with Macomb County.
The Clinton Township Board of Trustees will consider at its Dec. 17 meeting a resolution that, if passed, would contract the county to take on police and fire dispatch operations on behalf of the township. Final details about what the proposal would include were expected this week.
However, according to township officials last week, the consolidation, if approved, would be made in steps. Reports indicated that the proposal calls for running police dispatch from the county’s current dispatching center immediately after the union contract for the township’s police dispatchers expires on April 1, 2013. Dispatch would move over to the county’s new, state-of-the-art, $11 million emergency communications center once it is completed next year.
Fire dispatch, which receives most of its calls from police dispatch and alarm companies, would reportedly consolidate sometime in 2014.
Kathy DeYoung, president of the union representing Clinton Township’s 11 full-time and two part-time police dispatchers, said dispatchers were informed Dec. 3 of the proposal.
DeYoung said Dec. 7 that she had yet to learn many details about the proposed consolidation, and dispatchers thus had questions about how it would affect dispatch service and equipment, as well as dispatchers’ pay and benefits.
“Our primary concern … is the knowledge and personal service that people get with our dispatchers. We feel if you change that situation, potentially a lot of that is lost,” DeYoung said.
She said representatives from the Clinton Township Police Dispatchers Association would be attending the Dec. 17 meeting.
Township Supervisor Robert Cannon said the consolidation would provide residents at least the same 911 service, if not better, but at a lesser cost to the township.
Clinton Township Human Resources Director Bill Smith said with one dispatcher expected to retire, there would be more open slots at the county than there are township dispatchers, so all of the dispatchers should qualify for their jobs back, if they can pass a civil service examination.
Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham confirmed that there were enough openings within the county.
Dispatch consolidation has been on the radar of the Macomb Area Communities for Regional Opportunities, of which Cannon is a member, since the group’s formation in early 2011. Better known as MACRO, the group consists of nearly a dozen local communities, plus the county, dedicated to finding service-sharing possibilities to cut costs and improve efficiency.
Earlier this summer, county officials announced plans for a new $11 million emergency communications center within the Macomb County Department of Roads building on Groesbeck in Mount Clemens.
On Nov. 20, Sterling Heights became the first municipality to join, voting to approve an intergovernmental agreement for regional emergency services. Under the agreement, the city will shut down its existing dispatch center and begin relying on the county-operated center in June 2014.