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Lake County E-911 Consolidation Deadline Becoming Urgent

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October 24, 2013 — Lake County public safety leaders are trying to figure out how to consolidate 911 dispatch centers before they face their own deadline emergency.  They face a state requirement that counties consolidate their emergency call centers by the end of next year.

Some officials are contentious about answering the call to step up their safety efforts, as Lake County safety officials want to improve public safety by coming under one emergency radio system.

E-911 Executive Director Brian Hitchcock says, “They have the ability to talk across a county, and one community can talk to the other by simply changing a channel.”

Before they get on the same wavelegth via radio, officials must first agree at this table.

With an $11-million budget to consolidate current 911 call centers, safety officials want 18 communities to transfer their emergency funds to the county under an interlocal agreement.

To help unwilling communities comply, Munster Town Manager Tom Degiulio suggests each town purchase their own radio upgrades, “Some of the departments already have a majority of the equipment are compatible. Others may not have any. But, rather than automatically divert taxes from all of us, or revenue from all of us, let us each perform to what has to happen. And that seems to have found some happiness with people.”

If the Commission’s efforts go according to plan, by December 31, 2014, 18 call centers will be consolidated into one facility.  Experts say a consolidation like that usually takes three years to complete. Lake County is doing it in one year.

That’s why Hitchcock says the time it takes to get every interlocal agreement signed is precious, “There’s a lot I or my department cannot move forward on until we get the interlocal agreements signed by the different entities.”

For now, the Commission is putting a meeting with municipalities on hold until another agreement is drafted.

By Hilary Powell

 

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