Cities combine police dispatch units

Aug. 25, 2014

Oak Creek — St. Francis dispatchers will soon operate out of the Oak Creek Police Department as part of a new money-saving agreement between the two municipalities.

Under the 10-year joint dispatch agreement, St. Francis will pay Oak Creek $235,000 per year to dispatch both police and fire services out of its station. Oak Creek will dispatch police and fire out its station as usual.

Oak Creek also recently increased the size of its dispatch from four to eight units.

Consolidating policing services is going on in all municipalities, said Police Chief John Edwards.

Part of the push is to offset high costs required of updating 911 and other control systems.

"They're hefty amounts of money," Edwards said.

St. Francis is also in the process of building a new police station. As a result of the agreement with Oak Creek, it will not have a dispatch center.

Cities don't have to be neighbors to benefit from joint dispatch agreements. They just have to learn each other's coding systems so the dispatchers are on the same page.

Oak Creek and St. Francis police departments will in no way be merged, but dispatchers will assist each other when there is a high volume of calls, officials noted. St. Francis police said that St. Francis dispatchers will become Oak Creek employees.

This benefit during busy times will alleviate the need to call in off-duty dispatchers to cover the heavy call volume, said Jason Bauknecht, dispatch manager.

Edwards said calls for service don't have to do with a city's population but rather its geographics, like if the area is industrial or residential.

In 2013, the Oak Creek Police Department received almost 37,000 service calls for police and fire. St. Francis received roughly 12,000.

The St. Francis police chief deffered all comments to Mayor CoryAnn St. Marie-Carls. She did not respond to an interview in time for deadline.

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