Lowell to be survey about pilot dispatch program
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent December 2, 2012 4:44PM
Updated: December 3, 2012 8:37AM
Lowell residents and emergency responders will have the chance to weigh in the 911 emergency call center consolidation process before and after the town becomes the next municipality in the pilot consolidation project.
Tom Dabertin, a consultant for the Lake County Public Safety Communications Commission call center consolidation efforts, told commission members Thursday the survey would be used to learn what residents’ and responders’ concerns and questions leading up to town’s consolidation with Lake County dispatch next year might be.
A second survey would be sent after the town has been in the county fold for a while to determine how the process went and if concerns or fears about dispatch service, response time and other issues are realized.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to really gauge this,” Dabertin said.
He said the commission missed the opportunity to gather the information before New Chicago became the first community to participate in the pilot consolidation. It is important to get both the before and after perceptions to generate a more accurate evaluation of the process and the issues that may arise.
“We can really learn from this,” he said.
Lowell Police Chief John Shelhart said the Town Council and Lake County Sheriff’s Department are working on an agreement that would transfer 911 dispatch service from the town to the county. He expects the consolidation to go into effect sometime between March 1 and April 1.
Participating in the pilot consolidation gives the town an opportunity to have any glitches that may arise ironed out before the 17 other communities consolidate with the county. Shelhart said he is also hopeful it gives his current dispatchers an edge when applying to work at the new consolidated center.
“If there’s a problem with how our dispatching is done we will have the opportunity to bring it to the attention of the consolidation commission and make minor changes. Every department is going to need that,” Shelhart said.
In smaller agencies like Lowell, St. John, Griffith and Cedar Lake dispatchers do more than just dispatch. The pilot program will give officials an opportunity to see how the consolidation deals with these other duties.
“We’re going to be the ones who work out those little niches and figure out how to make this all work,” Shelhart said.