SB Council hears 911 dispatch consolidation plan

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The South Bend Common Council heard the latest plans Monday night for the consolidation of St. Joseph County’s 911 dispatch centers into a single answering point.

The state is requiring all Indiana counties to consolidate the their existing emergency dispatch centers into no more than two centers by the end of this year, or risk losing its portion of e-911 fees received from the state. Those receipts amount to about $2 million a year.

Currently, South Bend, Mishawaka, St. Joseph County, and Clay Township have their own centers. Walkerton has its own, but it does not directly answer 911 calls.

The plan for the county is to consolidate to two centers, the Mishawaka dispatch center and the South Bend dispatch center, by the end of 2014.

The new center will be located in Mishawaka off of Capital Avenue and south of 12th St.

“There was significant effort made by the project team to look at a number of locations both in South Bend, Mishawaka and the county,” Deputy Mayor Mark Neal said in a presentation to the Council.

Neal said the proposed Mishawaka site was owned by the Indiana Dept. of Transportation and was deemed to have the appropriate infrastructure.

Sgt. Dan Demler, President of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 36, spoke against the single center in favor of a two-center plan.

“The comment was made during the presentation about not having your back up too close to the primary in the case of a storm,” Demler said. “Well that's our point too. You always have two sites working. If something happens at one site and something happens, the other site can take over.”

South Bend Fire, Chief Steve Cox said the single center could help delay times.

“One of the things that we would like to see on the fire side is that we eliminate that delay in response,” Cox said. “If you're having to transfer that call from one dispatch center to the other dispatch center to alert them that there's another call in another area -- that's what's happening currently in St. Joseph County.”

The estimated total project cost is $9.1 million for the new, consolidated dispatch center.

The Council will discuss the resolution further at their August 11 meeting.

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