Cities partner for dispatch, jail operations

Sunday Times Newspapers

TRENTON — Making use of unexpected grant funding, the city’s police department has combined dispatch services with Riverview and will soon merge jail operations. The cooperative agreement will provide short- and long-term cost savings yet will not result in any positions being eliminated — some may even be added.

Trenton Police Chief James Nardone said the shared dispatch, which began Aug. 12, was the first step in a merger expected to be complete by year’s end.

“That was the plan, that there would be no lost employees,” Nardone said. “We’re working hard to staff it and may be adding dispatchers.”

City Administrator Jim Wagner said the merger was made possible when the city received approval for a Competitive Grant Assistance Program allowance of $84,000 that had been applied for by the previous administration.

“We found out (we received it) just a couple of days before,” Wagner said Thursday. “We hadn’t known. Some issues had to be addressed, and we just awarded the contract for the jail portion.”

Wagner said the short-term savings will be limited for Trenton, but equipment purchases and upgrades and other expenses will result in long-term benefits.

“We’re really looking at long-term, not short-term savings,” Wagner said. “Riverview and Trenton are the first partners, and we’re hoping that additional partners will make this a very workable thing.”

Nardone said that dispatch services could be shared by up to five departments, and that early discussions have been held with police agencies throughout Downriver.

“There are smaller departments that could benefit and recognize savings,” Nardone said. Among other examples, fingerprinting machines cost about $13,000, an expense that Trenton and Riverview now share. A two-position 911 telephone system to cover both cities cost approximately $84,000, a shared cost rather than each having to purchase individual systems at a higher rate.

The $84,000 grant money will go toward updating and renovating the Trenton holding cells and support equipment. The balance of the bid awarded last month of $108,000 will be split between the two partnering cities and paid for from forfeiture funds. By mid-December, Nardone said, the city jail will have updates including a new alarm, closed-circuit TV system, upgraded cells and new locking mechanisms, and will be prepared to provide all jail operations for both cities.

Early into the merger, Nardone said the cooperative project has been successful and that hopefully other departments will participate.

“We’re very happy and satisfied with Riverview,” Nardone said. “It’s a similar department. We’re not in this to make money, but to save money for everyone involved.”

(James Mitchell can be reached at