Police and fire dispatch duties will be shifted to the Monmouth County Sheriff’s office, borough officials said.
By DUSTIN RACIOPPI
Abandoning a plan hatched in controversy, Fair Haven won’t be teaming up with Little Silver to share dispatch services after all, borough officials said Monday night.
Instead, the borough will outsource its emergency call operations to Freehold.
After more than eight months of research and discussion with its neighbor to the south, Fair Haven officials decided to terminate an agreement entered in March to share dispatch services with Little Silver because the radio technology wasn’t working in Fair Haven. Those issues have since been rectified, Mayor Michael Halfacre said, but the council wasn’t fully satisfied.
“The problems have been resolved, but it’s not the type of dispatch that Fair Haven bought into back in February/March,” Halfacre said. “We’re at a juncture now where we have a decision to make.”
It was a nearly unanimous one: sign a contract with Monmouth County, which was once a front runner to take over the borough’s dispatching before Little Silver emerged late in the game with a cheaper offer that was also closer. The Monmouth County Sheriff’s Communication Center is located more than a half-hour away in Freehold.
But the council insists that distance won’t make any difference in service or cause any delay in response times. The county center provides services for 45 municipalities, according to its website.
In fact, Councilman and Police Commissioner Christopher Rinn, who also works with a regional dispatch center in Hudson County, says that having the county take Fair Haven’s 911 calls will benefit the borough with better technology, a robust quality control system and the comfort of knowing the county center is nationally accredited.
“The county is a prudent, tried and true, and trusted dispatch center,” he said. “It gives us a viable solution immediately that has been tested.”
The county service is expected to come at a cost comparable to Little Silver’s charges, too. Rinn said the contract with the county will be around $55,000 and will save Fair Haven about $100,000 annually. The Little Silver contract was $42,000, according to earlier reports.
Although the switch to Monmouth County was recommended by the borough’s upper echelon of emergency responders, it was clear when the issue was discussed last night that local civil servants were peeved that dispatch operations aren’t staying put.
Fair Haven Fire Company Chief Shaun Foley and Deputy Chief Jim Cerruti made a last-ditch effort to sway the council into bringing the call center back home, and the Policemen’s Benevolent Association went on the record as disapproving of the move.
But “the train’s out of the station,” and the shift to shared services is inevitable, said Councilman Ben Lucarelli.
Councilman John Lehnert, a borough firefighter, conceded that notion, but not happily.
“We were doing fine for at least 20 years,” he said. “We’re not going back to dispatch out of Fair Haven. I wish we could.”