Officials in Fair Haven are weighing whether to route all emergency calls from the borough to the Monmouth County Sheriff’s office as a cost-saving measure, the Asbury Park Press reports today.
Under the proposal, all police, fire and first aid calls originating in the borough would go through the dispatcher’s desk at the sheriff’s office. At present, only calls dialed to 911 go through the county, which relays information to Fair Haven dispatchers, according to Mayor Mike Halfacre.
The possible change is being pitched as a cost-saving measure one with a deadline. The sheriff’s office handles all dispatch duties for seven towns and can only take on two more. If Fair Haven wants in on the service, it will have to act soon, Undersheriff Shaun Golden, who runs the communications center, told the borough council last month.
But in a faint echo of the highly contentious last summer’s exploration of a limited merger of the police departments in Fair Haven, Little Silver an Rumson an idea eventually shot down by all three a police union representative has raised questions about the impact on jobs and service.
From the Press:
Jeff Jarvis, vice president of the Fair Haven Policeman’s Benevolent Association cautioned that residents now get a very personalized service from the police and said a lot of that has to do with the borough’s dispatchers.
“I’d ask that before any decision is made to eliminate them that the public be sufficiently notified about what’s happening,” Jarvis said. “We’re asking that sufficient meeting be held for the public to attend.”
Jarvis also questioned how county dispatchers would know where landmarks are that callers would refer to by how they’re known in the borough.
In response, Golden said that the communications center has lists of “alias” names and would rely on local officials to help them update that list, the Press reports.
This is from Halfacre’s blog posting following the Nov. 24 council meeting:
Currently, all 911 calls go to the County, and then are routed back to FH by county dispatchers. Our local dispatchers then communicate with the officers on the road. There are a number of towns that have taken out the middleman and have the county dispatchers communicate directly to the officers on the road. The technology in place at the Sheriffs Office is amazingly advanced, and we would certainly benefit from that.
There would also be a savings to the Borough if we participated in this program. However, we are concerned with issues related to officer safety and service to our residents. This is a very preliminary exploration of this possibility, and a lot more information and study is needed. We will continue to communicate where this process takes us.