CROWN POINT | Lake County's new director for E-911 services is scheduled to begin making the executive calls Monday.
New Director Brian Hitchcock will tour the space within the Lake County Government Complex that will become the nerve center for telephone and radio communications between the public and the county's public safety communications network, said Thomas Dabertin, a consultant for the county's E-911 consolidation.
The county hired Hitchcock last month under a three-year contract that pays $112,000 annually. Hitchcock was most recently director of the Emergency Communications Center in the Quad-Cities area of Illinois and Iowa. He has 31 years of experience in military and public safety communications.
The state has mandated Lake County to consolidate its 17 police and fire dispatch centers for municipal and county police into a single countywide network by next year.
The call center is currently an empty space once occupied by a meeting room and the county health department, which has moved to the old Westwind building north of the government center's main campus.
County officials said the space will eventually house consoles for dispatchers to take emergency calls from the public and dispatch first responders. The facility also will provide data support to emergency workers in the field.
Lake County Commissioner Roosevelt Allen, D-Gary, said Hitchcock's first priority will be to draw up a first-year budget for a consolidated operation. Allen said the financial information is needed by municipal and county officials before they can sign an interlocal agreement creating the merged E-911 network.
Cities and towns will have to share the cost of operating the consolidated center and buying or leasing communications gear.
Dabertin said the Lake County Public Safety Communications Commission, a 21-member advisory board of police and fire chiefs and county officials, will have its next public meeting at 9 a.m. Aug. 1.