Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The St. Pete Police Communications Center...It's Time to Move

The Mayor could take a big step forward in solving the City's budget problem by using the Sheriff's 911 call center for Police dispatch.
Nobody in the Foster administration has ever formally asked Sheriff Bob Gualtieri for quote to provide those services. All they have done is make excuses about why centralized dispatch for police won't work. Fact is it is working in a number of communities in Pinellas County.

The St. Pete Communications center budget approaches $10 million, and the cost to replicate this basically duplicative service in the new police facility has never been fully disclosed.
A decision to begin a migration of police dispatch to the County  right now would be a double savings by reducing operating costs and the capital cost of the new Police facility.
Chief Harmon's argument that the new facility would need to house a "backup" is simply wrongheaded when you look at the County's new Communications facility coming out of the ground.
The City's current computer system allows for interfacing with other agencies so the records and software issuers are really mute.
It's a classical case of turf protection coupled with the paranoia that runs rampant at the Police Department about the Sheriff "taking over".
At a time when County officials and some forward thinking City officials are beginning to have some serious conversations about some consolidation to save money, this one in St. Pete is no brainer.
Keep in mind that the County already dispatches all fire and emergency calls, and, as I have stated before, when was the last time a fire rescue and an ambulance did not show up when dispatched?
It is way past time for Mayor Foster to start pushing to eliminate the highly costly and totally duplicative communications center. The problem is he cannot get any straight answers out of the Police department.
The Mayor should set drown with the  Sheriff and the Police Chief,  if he will cooperate, and work out the details, get a cost proposal and then make a decision.
It's not rocket science, it's just good management.
e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook Friend request.

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