New plan proposed for dispatches

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Several city and county leaders held an informal meeting on Monday to discuss a possible plan for handling non-emergency dispatches for their departments.

Earlier this year, the county’s E-911 board learned that in order to be in compliance with state law, funds used to answer emergency calls from citizens cannot be used to dispatch other agencies on non-emergency calls, such as officers going on and off duty, training exercises, patient transfers, etc.

Since that time, E-911 has been working to establish a contract with each county entity for non-emergency dispatching, and many of the negotiations have been with the county commission.

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Commissioner Merrill Sport and Commission chairman Ricky McElwain held an informal meeting with representatives from the Sheriff’s Department, city of Brantley, Rutledge, Luverne, Dozier, Luverne Rescue and E-911.

Brantley police chief Titus Averette and Dozier police chief Terry Mears are also members of the E-911 board, and fellow E-911 board member Jennifer McDougald was also present. Neither the E-911 board nor the Commission had a quorum.

“We’re looking for options for the county,” Sport said. “Every citizen can call 911 and get help, but we’re talking about non-emergency calls.”

Under the proposed plan, dispatching for the Sheriff’s Department, Brantley Police, Brantley Rescue and Dozier Police would be handled by the City of Luverne and the Luverne Police Department.

Sport said he would like to try that option for at least a year as a way of consolidating expenses for both the county and local municipalities.

Sport said that he had talked to Luverne Mayor Joe Rex Sport and arrived at a cost of $24,000 per year, which would cover not only the county, but also Brantley and Dozier.

If the county receives $12,000 per year in rent from the E-911 board for use of the EMA building, that means the net cost to the county for non-emergency calls would total $12,000.

The County Commission has been negotiating a contract amount of over $30,000 with E-911.

“I’d like to try to find a one-year alternative,” he said. “That way we can just wade out in the water a little instead of jumping straight in.”

Sport said that the Luverne Police Department is capable of handling dispatch duties because they possess the same equipment as E-911, and that this solution would save money.

There was also discussion about the fact that a similar setup was tried in the past.

“This is just the blueprint,” Sport said. “I want the mayors to talk. I want everyone to be on the same page. We can’t listen to what’s been said in the past – ‘We tried it that way.’ We haven’t tried it that way.”

“In the past, we had problems with dispatches from Luverne,” said Brantley mayor Bernie Sullivan. “We’ll continue to dispatch during the day, but not on nights and weekends. Brantley is behind it.”

“There won’t be any problem working with the Luverne Police Department,” said Luverne Police Chief Paul Allen.

It was suggested that Allen would have monthly meetings with the leaders of the other police departments.

“I won’t be upset if it won’t work — I just wanted to see if we can work it out,” Sport said.

The second monthly meeting of the County Commission is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 28 at 6 p.m.