Tuesday, June 5, 2018

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Poughkeepsie takes first look at possible 911 consolidation with the county

POUGHKEEPSIE – The City of Poughkeepsie and Dutchess County currently have their own 911 call and dispatch operations, and according to a hired consultant, each has a close to a 99 percent timely dispatch record.  That’s significantly better than the recommended national standard of 90 percent.

So why change?

Winbourne Consulting, of Rosslyn, Virginia, began a feasibility study last November.

Winbourne’s Lisa Madden, appearing at Monday night’s common council meeting, had a list of points to ponder, including what she called “interoperability.”

“Nobody wants there to be any lack of communication or make it any more complicated for first responders to be able to communicate and Dutchess County is in the process of planning for a trunked radio system that will be able to encompass the whole county and will make this sort of a system much safer for first responders.”

Madden said a transition must be done a step at a time and could take perhaps five years.  Unions and bargaining units, coordinating work schedules are among many contingencies.

Her plan included seven recommendations:

  1. System to differentiate administration calls that should go to a 7-digit business number
  2. An education campaign so that citizens know what is an appropriate situation that should be called to 911
  3. Upgraded 911 answering equipment
  4. Rerouting trunk lines so that Dutchess County 911 would get the calls
  5. Transferring all fire dispatch to the county
  6. Developing a backup system
  7. Achieving full consolidation.

No one on the common council was ready to jump on board right now.

Christopher Petsas had significant reservations.

“I can’t support consolidation if it’s just about saving money,” Petsas said. “I think what the men and women do down in our dispatch center is phenomenal and I support them and I personally would like to see them maintain a separate entity.”

Another Democrat, Sarah Brannen said this is new information and requires full presentation to the city and residents.

“It seems as though inviting some of the affected agencies in to speak as well – fire, police, etcetera – inviting public comment from citizens, these kind of things might be worthwhile for something like this if it is to progress past today, since we’ve only just received this,” Brannen said.

Winbourne Consulting was paid $84,000 to do the study.  Madden emphasized it is only a study, not an implementation plan.

 


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