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Luverne police department to stop dispatch

By: Shayla Terry

In a special meeting called last week, the Luverne city council voted 4-1 to eliminate the Luverne Police Department’s dispatch, and to now utilize E-911 dispatch.

All 911 calls in the city of Luverne will now be dispatched through E-911. The police department will be opened from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and closed during the weeks to the general public. The department will now feature a phone outside the entrance of the building, so that if someone comes to the station outside of business hours they can call E-911 to dispatch an officer to service them.

Consolidating the two departments will stand to save $144,000 each year, according to police department liaison and district four city councilman Elliot Jones.

“When I accepted the responsibility as the police department liaison, I immediately stated looking into ways that we could improve our law enforcement program, while staying within the department’s budget,” Jones said. “After spending quite some times researching the issue, I realized that were was a senseless duplication of services that was costing taxpayers over $144,000 annually. This money can now be used to strengthen our law enforcement without costing the taxpayers one dime.”

Aside from saving money, Luverne Police Chief Mike Johnson says that dispatch equipment of the department is out of date, and most equipment cannot be updated.

“Some equipment would cost over $70,000 to update, others are not even in use any more,” Johnson said. “We don’t have recorded lines, our radio system is in dire need of update, which will cost a lot. E-911 has a whole different level of service that they can provide that we can’t offer.”

The contract with E-911 will cost the city $40,000. Currently, The town of Brantley and the Crenshaw County Sheriff’s office are utilizing E-911 for emergency and non-emergency dispatch.

The five employees that worked the Luverne police dispatch have been transferred to other positions according to Johnson. Johnson says that even through the office will close at 5 p.m. and weekends, the department’s normal operations will continue.

“Officers will still come in and out,” he said. “The services are not changing. However, when you call our number, instead of reaching the office, you’ll get E-911.

Kip Smth, councilman of district two was the one opposing vote.

“This is a win-win situation for the city and the county,” Luverne Mayor Ed Beasley said. “I appreciate our five council members for taking everything into consideration before voting on this matter.”

The switch to E-911 services will be effective May 16.