While city leaders toured the Waukesha Police Department’s dispatch center to see its capabilities in dispatching calls within seconds of 9-1-1 calls and its use of technology in call taking, there is still a lot to discuss before the city decides if it should stick with its current operations or if it should join the county’s dispatch center.
Concrete date has not yet been given to the Finance Committee, which is reviewing the issues. However, Police Chief Russell Jack believes that he will have the data available by late March for the Common Council to discuss joint dispatch in April. Jack is waiting on data from the county via open records requests before making an official recommendation to the Common Council.
“It is very early on in our feasibility study deciding whether we stay here at the Waukesha Police Department or consolidating with Waukesha County Communications,” Jack said. “… Until we get the information back, we are not prepared to answer that part.”
Tuesday’s meeting was the second. The Finance Committee previously toured the county dispatch facility.
While much was discussed about the police department’s dispatch center, its operations and answer time, some concerns remain. One of those concerns would be the city’s OptiCop system and how the county would coordinate watching city cameras while dispatching calls.
“You would never get that coordination,” Jack said.
Alderwoman Kathleen Cummings said she had been against joint dispatch but is willing to consider it because of the county’s new software system used in sending out squad cars and fire trucks. She urged all the other aldermen to consider the technology as they make a decision.
Alderman Terry Thieme, a former Waukesha police officer, spoke about the need to have quality trained individuals and good customer service, citing frustrating time he had contacted the county’s dispatch center over a domestic disturbance he observed.
“You can have the best equipment you want but it comes down to training with personal experience,” Thieme said. “… It has got to be an even match.”
Alderman Joe Pieper, who chairs the committee, said that while cost is a consideration in consolidated dispatch, there are other considerations such as customer service and officer safety.
“This is more than dollars and cents,” he said.