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Sheriff and Chief discuss dispatch consolidation with Lucy Ann Lance

Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton & Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones - The City of Ann Arbor anticipates saving $400,000 a year by contracting with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department for dispatch services. Talks are underway to work out a deal that the County estimates would be cost-neutral for the County and would help streamline dispatch services.

Listen to the conversation on the Lucy Ann Lance show.

ANN ARBOR, Mich., June 8, 2011 — After nearly two decades and countless attempts by previous administrations, the City of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office announced today that discussions have begun anew to integrate the City of Ann Arbor dispatch function with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office in an attempt to save the city approximately $400,000 annually in total dispatch operating costs.

Consolidating dispatch staff would require the City of Ann Arbor to contract with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office for dispatch service. Execution of such a contract would require City Council and the County Board of Commissioners approval.

“The consolidation of dispatch services could decrease City of Ann Arbor dispatch operating expenses and may help Police achieve their service and financial goals,” said City of Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones. “Keeping officers on the street, patrolling the downtown and neighborhoods, is my No. 1 priority.”

City of Ann Arbor Police Chief Barnett Jones and Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton are confident a Washtenaw County consolidated dispatch center could streamline police emergency dispatch costs through optimized resource allocation.  The change would assist both units of government in refining operations while providing effective and efficient emergency service delivery.         

In June 2010, the City of Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County co-located dispatch staff into one center as a cost-savings strategy that allowed the two organizations to leverage required radio system technology improvements and share overhead costs. Consolidating dispatch services will help to address common dispatch challenges such as determining the appropriate response jurisdiction based on a caller’s description of his or her whereabouts. Broader situational awareness of police calls for service would be achieved because dispatchers would be more aware of calls for service countywide as opposed to single jurisdictions. Technology and infrastructure economies of scale and enhancements would continue to be achieved.  This operational change would also eliminate the need to transfer calls within the room from a Washtenaw County dispatcher to an Ann Arbor dispatcher and vice versa.  This would greatly lessen the possibility of a call being misrouted and would minimize or eliminate any portion of hold times caused by a call transfer.

“The successful co-location of dispatch center staff allowed us to explore other municipal shared-service models and really focus on collaboration opportunities that would benefit our community,” said Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton. “Executing a contract with Ann Arbor would allow us to follow in the steps of other counties such as Livingston and Genesee that have saved costs while maintaining service delivery to citizens."

You can hear the Sheriff and Chief discuss this possibility at length with Lucy Ann Lance. Hear the conversation here.

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