Originally Posted by MFR465
That study was quite a few years ago...... so where anyone stands on that platform is beyond me. I will reiterate, "you get what you pay for".
Merging/sharing services is one thing... having competent dispatchers to staff it is another.
Fundamentally I agree with you, but I've seen this battle fought over and over in other parts of the country. Every case has ended with home rule being trumped by expense, without exception. How it plays is that the chief officer, be it fire or police, is confronted either by overwhelming political force (the chief is an "at will" employee and serves at the pleasure of the administration), or there are decisions made between retaining dispatching services OR retaining officers/firefighters. Then, there's a promise to have a board of governance that the chief would either sit on, or have representation in, and finally, after some years, it becomes a "Hey, WE pay the bills so WE will implement the procedures" autonomy.
Most of the time it's an amicable thing in the latter stages, but sometimes there's the staging for... imperialism (for the lack of a better word). Now that you have dispatch, you have the ability to gather response statistics, including how long it takes officers/firefighters/EMS to get on scene and in contact with whomever from the time the call is received until contact is made. With all that raw data, stats can be derived to imply that a certain department can be regionalized (just like dispatch was) to a county sheriff, or in Bergen Co's case, the county police. Same arguments. Save money. No impact in response time.
So, why do these things work? Pretty predictably, at that. Because public safety fails to create its own body of knowledge. In the absence of facts that can refute the bottom line issue (money), the bottom line always wins. At least in bad fiscal times. When there's lots of money and certainty in revenue, politics can trump expense. Why? It's because there's nothing conclusive that says, "Because I have my own (dispatch center, police department, fire department), my people are better off in X, Y, and Z ways, even if it costs more money upfront." Think about this: if a community's own dispatching operation provides a better ISO rating than that from a higher unit of government's dispatching operation, that means the taxpayers might be paying more in taxes, but that's balanced out or even outweighed by the amount of money they're paying for insurance. Looking at the big picture, counting all of the nickels and dimes that go to other services, not just municipal taxes might be what has to be done - if there's a case to be built. Then someone can say, well, yes, it costs me an extra $3/yr in taxes, but if I weren't paying that, I'd be paying an extra $150/yr in insurance. When we only look with blinders you only see one thing at a time. It's easy to say "cut it."
Our politicians work that way, too. They see a small victory for themselves, making themselves look good. Put another way, eliminating trash pickup and allowing private carting companies looks like you saved all that money in taxes. Then you have to go out and hire a garbage hauler and you pay them directly. That's not a 100% corollary, politicians thinking about dispatching services and garbage pickup, but it's the same mindset. What's saved is traded off somewhere else - and out of some other budget.
What ends up happening is that the regionalized dispatchers end up being generalists. They ansewer the phones and radio just fine. The difference is that they will rely on CAD and GIS for their location information and RMS for their local knowledge because they may live somewhere other than the area they're dispatching for, or be working a different section that shift. The units themselves will have to shoulder the local knowledge... unless they're in a big organization themselves.