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City's 911 Emergency Center Now Run by Civilians

New Haven Register via YellowBrix

August 17, 2010

NEW HAVEN — At midnight Monday, the city flipped the switch to civilianize its emergency 911 center.

The police union questioned whether the city was prepared.

The city has been moving toward the change for more than six months after creating a new city department to handle public safety communications and hiring a civilian, Clayton Northgraves, to run it.

Rob Smuts, the city’s chief administrative officer, said the general public calling 911 or seeking police help shouldn’t notice any difference.

The switch, city officials say, was designed to streamline services. Previously, a Fire Department supervisor oversaw 911 operations and police bosses supervised police dispatch and call taking.

Civilians for years have handled the actual call taking and dispatching, although patrol officers routinely filled in when needed.

The change involved police and fire civilian employees being absorbed into one new emergency communications department and cross-trained to do the other’s job.

That’s where the cost savings come in, Smuts said, estimating that the new civilian operation should save the city about $150,000 per year or more.

Questions had arisen about whether the new department had adequate staffing to cover all its around-the-clock shifts.

Sgt. Louis Cavaliere, the union president, said the union had opposed the changes to civilian status for the operation, but signed off to help settle the last contract. Now city officials who pushed for the plan came back and asked for an extension, he said.

“They’re nowhere near ready to do what they want to do for civilianization,” said Cavaliere.

Smuts said the city did request an extension because cross training was not yet completed. But he said Monday that they were ready to make the switch, even if they have to bring in police officers to cover dispatching shifts.

Once the transformation is complete, the result should be better service and a significant cost savings for the city, Smuts said.


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  • Jpd_new_max50

    PETE114

    almost 4 years ago

    1396 Comments

    A lot of dispatch centers are becoming civilian run now. I'm not talking about the dispatchers themselves, but a separate company that runs a 911/dispatch center with only oversight from a Department head (Chief, Sheriff, etc.). I have not heard of any big problems. A lot has to do with saving $$$.

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50

    Whalewatcher

    almost 4 years ago

    11194 Comments

    Hopefully, this is nothing more than growing pains.

  • Untitledma28839986-0002_max50

    Irishcop1961

    almost 4 years ago

    50482 Comments

    Our dispatchers are civilians and answer to a Sgt. in charge of the communications. They are all certified, were officers are not. Officer can not even answer a 911 phone call unless certified.

  • Badge__hat_max50

    Baxter2

    almost 4 years ago

    1846 Comments

    Our dispatchers are responsible for our safety and answer to the Sheriff and nobody else. I like it that way.

  • Justice-400_max50

    clobster

    almost 4 years ago

    1552 Comments

    I thought this was pretty standard. Most dispatch centers in my area are civilian run with advisory boards made up of public safety personnel.

  • Me_max50

    danchey05

    almost 4 years ago

    700 Comments

    Our 911 center is civilian run. We are under the County Commission who does all of our hiring and handles our training and pay. We are proud members of APCO and have a great staff. We dispatch for two counties. All of our dispatchers are cross-trained to handle all of the police, fire, and EMS services for both counties and call taking for both counties. Being cross trained comes in handy when there is a multiple agency call and it allows us the freedom of being able to fill in for one another when someone is out sick or on vacation without having to try to operate short staffed. We are one of the only agencies in our state to utilize EMD cards and give pre-arrival instructions over the phone including CPR instructions and instructions for childbirth. We also have the best equipment an agency could ask for thanks to our director who is know for staying on top of things and making sure we have every opportunity to receive new equipment and great training. A civilian center is not a bad thing. It frees up more officers for the road and helps to keep other residents of the community employed. It also gives those that work here a great sense of pride to be helping other people in their time of need. Just because they don't wear a badge doesn't mean that they can't do the job.

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