MONTPELIER — Support for a regional emergency dispatch center in central Vermont has come from Montpelier Police Chief Tony Facos.
In a letter to be presented to Montpelier City Council on Wednesday, Facos addressed the proposal by the Central Vermont Public Safety Authority to coordinate dispatch service to improve response times and reduce overall costs of current services in Montpelier and Barre.
Facos noted that Montpelier Police Department has participated in exploring options and ideas and supported the vision of regionalization, supplied data, made staff available for meetings, interviews and dispatch center observations. and provided professional opinions on emergency communications and public safety.
“While this document will not directly answer all of the questions that city councilors, our partners and the community may have, it will serve to highlight our collective thoughts on the CVPSA,” Facos wrote. “First of all, we do believe that in Vermont, a true regionally supported approach to public safety services is the future.”
Facos said his department saw many advantages to a regional dispatch center. They include:
– Better coordinated response of emergency personnel to the public and first responders in need.
– Improved recruitment and retention of qualified staff by providing more career opportunities, competitive salary and benefits, continuous training and staff development, and enhanced technology that is financially out of reach of individual communities.
– Coordinated planning, funding and management of a needed fire and EMS regional radio infrastructure replacement and upgrade for central Vermont, requiring a bond vote of between $1.2 million to $1.6 million, although it’s not clear which community would take the lead on a bond vote.
– Greater potential for success when applying for public safety grants.
– And improved governmental relations between communities beyond public safety.
“It is important to note that we do support a single site location if the CVPSA were to assume control of dispatch,” Facos said. “There are definite benefits to being co-located that could significantly improve our current dispatch operations.”
Facos said a single dispatch center would require a minimum of two or more dispatchers at all times and would provide “multiple event, situational awareness in real-time.” There would also be improved management of radio and telephone traffic and more support during difficult calls and events, and catastrophic situations.
His department did not support any reduction in dispatch personnel “as we feel all dispatchers will be needed for mission success,” Facos said.
Until the site for a single location dispatch center is decided, Facos said both dispatch centers should remain in service, integrated within the police stations, with full operational support and physical and personnel security.
Facos said tasks still to be completed included site selection, building design and equipment, implementation time and identifying funding and operational and personnel planning.
Facos said each city should decide on its own if service levels would be worth the investment in the CVPSA plan.