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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ashby selectmen cooling on 911 outsourcing proposalBy Crystal Bozek
ASHBY -- Selectmen are beginning to look at regionalizing the emergency dispatch 911 as possibly bringing more problems than benefits to the town.
Members had asked police officials to study how the department might cut its midnight-to-8 a.m. dispatcher shift, suggesting that regionalization could save the town some money.

"I think we may want to abandon this idea," Town Administrator Linda Sanders said. "If we do 911 outsourcing, we could lose it all."

Town officials heard the town couldn't just terminate the 911 service without paying to have all the equipment removed.

Selectman Gerard Houle said officials have said, "We're not the gas company. We don't turn (the 911 service) off and on."

Sanders said she was more concerned at losing the department's hard-earned certifications.

While Sanders emphasized the Police Department was still analyzing the financial implications, she added: "I'm not sure you're gonna want to go there (when the study is complete)."

The Ashby station currently operates 24-hour communications service.

Selectmen also approved a mutual aid agreement between the Police Department and New Ipswich, N.H., police.

Mutual aid -- the practice of dispatching officers to other towns in times of need -- would let either department request help if its officers couldn't get to an incident or needed help. The New Ipswich officers would have all the authority of a regular town officer, including the ability to make arrests, and vice versa.

Acting Chief Steven McLatchy said the department is also looking into a mutual aid agreement with Mason, N.H.

"This makes it a lot easier to back someone up at a scene," McLatchy said. "We've previously been limited. ... But the communities have always been able to help each other out" even without an agreement, he said.

Legislation formally came in at the end of October enabling officers in Massachusetts to practice mutual aid with bordering New Hampshire towns. While officers could cross state lines before, they didn't have their full police powers.

In other business:

The Police Department received a $12,000 non-matching community policing grant this month from the Executive Office of Public Safety. The grants must be used to initiate new programs.
 

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Slightly off-topic, what about this act dealing with mutual aid with New Hampshire border towns? I haven't seen much about this on here. Our agency, although doing little law enforcement work, borders New Hampshire. How does this reciprocity with New Hampshire work? Anybody have a link to the full-text of this act?
 

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We, the National Park Service, will be going to a Regional dispatch over the next year. It is easier for us since three of the 4 National Parks in MA don't have a dispatch center.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hubbardston considering regional dispatch

Hubbardston considering regional dispatch

Jason Feifer
CORRESPONDENT

RUTLAND- Several area towns are considering regionalizing their emergency dispatch services, citing the change as a possible way to provide better service with more well-trained dispatchers.

At a meeting Tuesday night in Rutland, officials from Rutland, Holden, Paxton, Oakham and Hubbardston discussed the possible project.

Barre had also expressed interest but town officials were not able to attend the meeting, according to Louis J. Cornacchioli, chairman of the Rutland Board of Selectmen.

Officials from most towns said they were willing to consider different forms of regionalized dispatch services. For instance, the service could resemble a regional school system, where all towns contribute to one service, or one town could maintain a service to which other towns subscribe.

Oakham currently pays to be a part of Rutland's dispatch service, a relationship that Oakham Selectman Timothy J. Toomey said works well.

Rutland Fire Chief Thomas P. Ruchala said he believes there would be many benefits to merging the service between towns.

"There's no question in my mind that we're going to have a better operation, and it's going to facilitate mutual aid, which we rely on so heavily, more so than we did five or 10 years ago," he said. "We can save money by doing this, and we can have better people with better training, and give them a pay rate that's fair and equitable."

Representatives from most towns said their current dispatchers are undertrained, because there is no way to find someone to fill in for dispatchers while they attend training sessions.

Hubbardston Fire Chief Seth A. Knipe said the largest benefit to regionalizing dispatch service would be getting better-trained dispatchers and being able to afford better technology to reach areas in towns that current dispatch services are unable to reach.

"The real selling point isn't cost savings. It's better service," he said. "If there is any financial savings, that's just icing on the cake."

The towns have not done any studies to estimate possible cost savings.

However, some officials expressed concern about merging dispatch services, particularly for the police departments.

Fire department dispatches are easier to regionalize because it is just a matter of getting the address of a fire and passing it along to the proper department, according to Rutland Police Chief Joseph R. Baril.

For police, it is more complicated, he said. For a town to have access to the state's database of information such as criminal history and vehicle registration, it must have a 24-hour dispatch service and the chief of police must serve as the authorizing figure for all searches and dissemination of information from the database.

If the towns regionalized, a police chief would have to be selected to take responsibility for dissemination of information across multiple towns.

Another concern voiced by officials was that the dispatcher in a regional system may not be familiar with certain towns. Mr. Cornacchioli said that should not be much of an issue, because dispatchers can relay addresses to a local police and fire department, which will be familiar with the town and respond to the call.

However, Holden Fire Chief Edward J. Stark Jr. said that may still be confusing because some towns have different streets with very similar names.

After an hour of discussion, the officials said they would go back to their towns and discuss whether they want to pursue the regional system. One representative from every interested town will then join a committee to research the feasibility and benefits of a regionalized system, and will report its findings by mid-May.
 

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Ummmm, why does a police chief have to be in charge of the regional 911 center? That makes no sense.
 

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Doesn't the Law require a "Sworn Police Officer" be present at a police Dispatch Center? hence, having a Desk Sgt....
 

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Perhaps in MA, not in Illinois. Our Director and Deputy Director are both civilian. If that's the case in MA then the law needs to be changed, it serves no purpose. We don't have desk Sgts either at many pd's.
 

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RPD931 said:
Doesn't the Law require a "Sworn Police Officer" be present at a police Dispatch Center? hence, having a Desk Sgt....
I highly doubt that is the law... it certainly is not true at my department! :shock:

-Mike
 

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RPD

RPD and rest,

Dispatch centers wether police, fire or combined do not require a sworn officer to be there. Even with LEAPS it is not required as long as the proper paper work is signed and submitted to them.

There is no need for a dispatch center especially combined or regional to have a police or fire chief in charge. dispatch center all over the country have civilian management and they centers run much better.
 
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