Melvindale Council rejects Dearborn central dispatch agreement

By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers

MELVINDALE – Following feedback from residents, and counter to the Public Safety Commission’s recommendation, the City Council June 15 voted against entering into a central dispatch agreement with Dearborn for emergency services.

By defeating the motion, the council also opted to keep its own jail facility.

The Public Safety Commission, which met June 14, recommended the city join Dearborn central dispatch but maintain a separate jail facility.

The motion was made by Councilman Carl Louvet and supported by Councilman Steven Densmore. Voting in favor of consolidation were Councilmen Dave Cybulski, Densmore and Louvet. Council members Nicole Barnes, Michelle Said Land and Wheeler Marsee were opposed.

The 3-3 tie vote caused the motion to fail.

Issues that were brought up as concerns included whether moving to a central dispatch agreement was a cost savings, or a safety improvement.

With multiple operators available to answer 911 calls, call response time can improve. With incoming calls, two operators could, as warranted, work in tandem, with one continuing to talk to the caller, while another relays information to first responders.

Another point of concern was out-of-area operators’ familiarity with street names, landmarks, and the geography of a city other that an area with which they are more familiar.

The question of liability for mistakes made by 911 operators, and whether shifting dispatch to another city would decrease the home city’s liability was brought up.

Dearborn Fire Chief Joseph Murray said of the seven communities that Dearborn is in discussions with over centralized dispatch, Melvindale asked the most questions about the implications and timeline of a dispatch migration.

Public safety commissioner Jeff Boulton said more than one person should be receiving incoming 911 calls.

“From a public safety standpoint, I do believe we need a backup on the 911,” Boulton said. “Somewhere, somehow, that scares me – one person there.

“I don’t know how we are going to do it, but down the line I understand the state is going to make us do it one way or another.”

(Sue Suchyta can be reached at sue.suchyta@yahoo.com.)

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