E-911 holdouts are in county officials' rearview mirror

2014-05-01T19:00:00Z 2014-05-01T21:44:39Z E-911 holdouts are in county officials' rearview mirrorBill Dolan bill.dolan@nwi.com, (219) 662-5328 nwitimes.com

ST. JOHN | County and municipal officials are moving forward to merge Lake's police, fire and emergency medical radio communications without four skeptical communities.

The Lake County Public Safety Communications Commission, a group of municipal and county officials, agreed Thursday to post job listings for 100 full-time and 40 part-time dispatchers the county will hire later this year to work in a countywide call center to take public requests for emergency services.

The state has mandated Lake County combine its 17 county and community-based dispatch centers into a single communications network by year's end.

Crown Point, Dyer, East Chicago, Gary, Griffith, Hammond, Hobart, Lake Station, Munster, New Chicago, Merrillville, Whiting and county police have signed an interlocal agreement to join the new service.

Cedar Lake, Highland, Schererville and St. John have declined over concerns the new service will cost too much and not deliver the same quality of service.

The four holdout communities have instead drafted a resolution they demand county officials sign, requiring the county to agree in writing to several conditions to hold down the cost and not meddle in the hiring process.

Although county officials have given verbal assurances and written letters with such promises, Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen, D-Gary, said Thursday county officials won't sign the four holdouts' resolution, which would also require a lengthy review by all other cities and towns.

"We can't keep going back and rewriting an agreement we already agreed to," Allen said.

The county council also has held firm against reconsidering the new E-911 service's constitution as well.

County officials said they may have to reduce the number of dispatchers they hire if the four communities keep their own community-based dispatch rooms.

Thomas Dabertin, a county E-911 consultant, said 75 county and municipal dispatchers already have applied for work in the new service, which will pay a salary ranging from $27,000 to $40,000 annually depending on the dispatcher's work experience.

He said job interviews and hiring won't begin until late summer and early fall.

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