First Responders and Community Oppose Government Leaders Plans
Despite proposed efficiencies, the consolidation of six 911 PSAPs in Lucas County, Ohio has met with significant opposition. That opposition comes from not only the dispatchers that work in those PSAPs and community citizens, but also 2 of the city councils involved in the plan.
Lucas County currently has 6 PSAPs: Toledo, Sylvania, Sylvania Township, Maumee, Oregon, and the Lucas County Sheriff’s Office. Each agency funds its own individual operations, estimated total costs are approximately $15.5 million annually. Government leaders in favor of the consolidation estimate that those costs could be reduced to $9.4 million.
Those advocating for consolidation, such as Oregon Police Chief Mike Navarre, argue that the measure will improve public safety response to emergency calls. PSAPs continue to experience a decline in the number of 9-1-1 calls that originate from wireline devices while wireless calls continue to grow. Wireless calls made near a jurisdictional boundary are often received by the wrong PSAP; thus requiring dispatchers to transfer the call to the appropriate PSAP for handling. Consolidating Lucas County’s PSAPs into a single center will reduce the likelihood that calls need to be transferred thus allowing police and fire teams to respond faster to the scene of an emergency. Additionally, a large incident would benefit from centralized communications when different responding municipalities are involved.
Pros and Cons to the Proposal
While Chief Navarre and others believe the cost savings and improved communications will benefit the citizens of Lucas County, opponents state that the disadvantages far outweigh the advantages. Dispatchers have been vocal about the individual PSAPs having more knowledge of their local communities. At a public meeting, Oregon dispatchers stated their position that Oregon is a small community and they know their citizens. Their concerns are that the community would lose that local knowledge of its citizens, as well as familiarity with the jurisdiction such as local landmarks if dispatch services were consolidate into a single PSAP.
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Additional concerns raised against the proposed plan, including those from Chief David Tullis with the Maumee Police Department, are that the individual agencies will still need to continue staffing for answering non-emergency calls and other duties performed by their dispatch centers. Maumee stands to lose $110,000 that it receives annually for providing dispatch services to the neighboring Ottawa Hills community.
Active Opposition to the Proposal
While the proposal is still under review, its opponents are taking actions to prevent it from coming to fruition. The Oregon and Maumee city councils have passed resolutions in formal opposition of the proposal. Community members have taken a social media approach by launching a social media page, Lucas County Citizens United Against 911 Consolidation, to get information out to the public.