Lowell, Lake County E-911 pilot may finally happen
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent March 7, 2013 1:22PM
Updated: March 7, 2013 1:57PM
County officials appear prepared to go forward with the pilot emergency call center consolidation between Lowell and the Lake County Sheriff’s Department.
A majority of Lake County Council members in a work session Thursday said they would be willing to sign a revised interlocal agreement that would keep the two dispatchers from Lowell, who will work at the county’s dispatch center and be paid by the town of Lowell.
County Council President Ted Bilski, D-Hobart, said the deal would work the same way as the Sheriff Department’s combined High Intensity Drug Task Force. Officers from departments throughout Lake County who are task force members participate on loan to the county and remain employed by their own towns and cities.
“This is no different than the drug task force,” Bilski said.
Councilman David Hamm, D-Hammond, urged fellow council members to act quickly on the interlocal and not defer action for another month.
Members of the Lake County Emergency Communications Commission and officials from Lowell had hoped the pilot consolidation would go online March 1. Concerns by County Council members over the interlocal agreement and how the two dispatchers from Lowell would be paid have temporarily derailed the pilot.
Hamm said he has been in contact with Lowell officials who indicated they have one dispatcher who recently retired and a second ready to do the same. If the pilot consolidation does not occur soon the town will be forced to take officers off patrol to staff the local emergency dispatch center until it is approved.
“The biggest concern they have is they will have to take police officers off the street if we don’t get this going,” Hamm said.
Council members said revisions to the agreement should reflect the dispatchers will not be employed by the county, will not automatically be hired at the consolidated center when it goes online, and that the town’s financial obligation when consolidation is complete will be equitable with the other cities and towns participating.