GUEST COMMENTARY: Lake County needs single dispatch center

2013-10-22T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Lake County needs single dispatch centerBy David Coulson nwitimes.com
October 22, 2013 12:00 am  • 

For more than a year, members of the One Region Public Safety Committee have been meeting to collectively assess and evaluate law enforcement functions within Lake, Porter, and LaPorte counties.

As active law enforcement professionals, this independent committee is fully engaged in exploring new and innovative ways of doing business and adopting best practices for future consideration when applicable.

Also in furtherance of this overall regional approach, we are committed to embracing law enforcement functions which operate well within our area, while at the same time, acknowledging functions in need of improvement. This approach is designed to ensure public safety remains a top priority and that the most effective as well as efficient means are employed by those charged with such important duties.

Public safety and related matters go hand in hand with quality of life issues related to our region and are intertwined with many other areas of concern such as economic development, health care and education, to name a few.

From the law enforcement front, many positive strides have been achieved in recent years through advanced communication, cooperation and coordination. Examples of this unprecedented collaboration includes the newly created STOP team, the Lake County HIDTA, use of one common countywide computer system, and expanded partnerships with Indiana University, Northwest, Calumet College and Purdue University Calumet. These force multipliers will no doubt continue to be fruitful in addressing relevant public safety issues and will have a direct impact on all region communities.

An area of particular importance to area law enforcement, as well as to the residents of Lake County, involves the passage of legislation outlining a centralized approach and consolidation of E-911 dispatch functions within the county.

During the past several years, many dedicated public safety professionals have expended hundreds of hours researching and developing ways to best implement this significant project. These activities were performed in a very methodical and deliberate fashion, and those involved should be commended for their contributions.

While not necessarily popular with all communities within Lake County, compliance with this mandated legislation must be adhered to or there will be substantial financial losses incurred as a result.

Aside from the monetary implications, there is also the risk of impacting the positive efforts area law enforcement agencies have achieved in attacking crime and addressing public safety matters through a regional approach. As such, the Public Safety Committee respectfully urges policy-makers ultimately responsible for seeing this project through to push forward with one unified dispatch center and to use the state quantity purchasing agreement to expedite the process.

The momentum and advances being made by law enforcement in Northwest Indiana should not be hampered by the duplication of efforts as well as services.

David Coulson is chairman of One Region's Public Safety Committee. The opinions are the writer's.

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