City holds study session for possible dispatch center merger

Photo by Zeinab Najm. Kerry Laycock (right), president and management consultant for Kerry D. Laycock Organizational, presents new information regarding the possible dispatch merger with the city of Dearborn to Dearborn Heights residents during a meeting July 20.

Photo by Zeinab Najm. Kerry Laycock (right), president and management consultant for Kerry D. Laycock Organizational, presents new information regarding the possible dispatch merger with the city of Dearborn to Dearborn Heights residents during a meeting July 20.

By ZEINAB NAJM
Times-Herald Newspapers

HEIGHTS — Residents voiced their opinion regarding the purposed dispatch merger with the city of Dearborn during a study session July 19.

Kerry Laycock, president and management consultant for Kerry D. Laycock Organizational, presented new information to the residents and answered questions from the audience.

The purposed 911 emergency service dispatch consolidation plans to include Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, Inkster, Wayne and Westland.

Melvindale also was involved, but voted against entering the merger. The Melvindale City Council voted 3-3 June 15, causing the motion to fail.

Laycock said he thinks Melvindale will revisit the dispatch merger and possibly revote to join in the near future.

“Consolidated centers allows communities to come together,” he said. “A wider range of resources will be available through one point of communication.”

In total, Dearborn Heights is projected to save $243,000 from its budget, which will be seen within the first year of the merger, Laycock said.

Another positive from the dispatch merger will be new technology for all communities involved, including an 800 megahertz system, radio system, voice recorder, 911 telephone system and radio logger.

Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad explained that with the new technology, if a bank was robbed and police were called, dispatchers will be able to have a photo of the suspect almost immediately.

“Not every city has this needed technology,” he said. “Under the merger it will be available. Consolidation is nothing new with eight already existing in Wayne County.”

Under the dispatch center agreement, Dearborn Heights will have to sell its current dispatch equipment for about $200,000 after purchasing it a few years ago for $750,000 because it will become outdated.

Most residents in attendance raised concerns about dispatchers knowing what location or city a caller is in when contacting the new dispatch center.

“The new technology can pinpoint very close to the caller’s exact location,” Laycock said. “It is then shown on the dispatcher’s screen with a plotted route from the closest police officer.”

Locations also show up inside police, first responder and fire vehicles on maps with the location of the caller needing assistance.

“The community the phone call comes from will not matter,” Haycock said. “All phone calls will be answered in the order they come in.”

The purposed center will be on the second floor of the Dearborn Administrative Center, 16901 Michigan Ave., covering 5,400 square feet.

An equally sized backup dispatch center is being planned in case of an emergency or fire at the primary location.

A total of 38 full-time dispatchers will be answering 911 phone calls along with non-emergency phone calls. Dearborn Heights currently has 11 dispatchers answering its phone calls.

“I had a discussion with the Dearborn mayor about our long-time employees here in Dearborn Heights,” Heights Mayor Daniel Paletko said. “Our dispatchers will not be forgotten about.”

All dispatchers will be trained in police, medical and fire procedures and a standard of 90 percent for phone calls answered within 10 seconds.

“Technology removes the worry about response time for the residents because of the accuracy and advancement,” Heights Councilman Joseph Kosinski said.

When asked about the possibility of Dearborn Heights returning to its own dispatch center, Laycock said it is highly unlikely and they would either have to join Dearborn or another consolidated center.

“The state is pushing for consolidation,” he said. “It is becoming more and more common because of its advantages for communities.”

(Zeinab Najm can be reached at zeinabnajm92@gmail.com.)