GUEST COMMENTARY: Lake's 911 Commission is working diligently

2013-09-18T00:00:00Z GUEST COMMENTARY: Lake's 911 Commission is working diligentlyBy Herbie Cruz nwitimes.com
September 18, 2013 12:00 am  • 

As chairman of the Lake County Public Safety Communications Commission, it is my responsibility to set the record straight.

In Times Investigative Editor Marc Chase's recent columns, he stated the 911 consolidation project was "put off for about five years, only getting down to brass tacks just before the deadline." In addition, "There has been five years of foot-dragging as some local officials pulled their blankies over their heads and hoped the mandate would go away."

Dismissed by Chase is the hard work and hundreds of hours invested by dedicated police and fire chiefs who sit on the 911 Commission.

The 911 Commission has subcommittees for technology, finance, human resources and facilities.

The technology committee has had the enormous responsibility of evaluating system designs, computers, radios, cell towers, cameras, trunk lines, consoles, frequencies, dispatch systems -- and the list goes on.

The finance committee has worked on operational budgets, equipment cost, maintenance and warranty agreements -- all costs associated with this huge project.

The HR committee has spent countless hours meshing policies, procedures, rules, regulations, training needs and staffing plans for 17 different communities into one. Much progress has been made by the HR committee. The final draft is near completion.

The facilities committee has worked to identify and evaluate potential sites. This committee is meeting frequently and diligently working with the construction manager of the project to expedite the consolidated center.

Chase also stated the 911 Commission was "pushing for a no-bid contract with one communications vendor without considering others." Nothing could be further from the truth.

Out of the concern of not meeting the Dec. 31, 2014, deadline, the 911 Commission endorsed the quantity purchase agreement.

The Indiana QPA is administered by the Department of Administration Procurement Division. QPA vendors have been awarded contracts on the basis of a competitive bid process. Many cities and towns in Lake County use the QPA. Vehicles, computers, radios, fuel and uniforms are just a few items that can be purchased through the QPA.

To address the concern that other vendors were not considered is unfounded. In fact, all vendors participated in the initial request for proposals data-gathering stage set forth by the 911 Commission. The Dec. 31, 2014, deadline, and the possibility of losing millions of dollars in 911 fees, were factors considered by the commission in recommending the QPA.

The 911 Commission has never opposed the RFP process. We simply felt that since Indiana has already administered the competitive bid process at the state level, we should concentrate on the dozens of other issues that still must be addressed.

At this point, we must come together and work as a team in order to accomplish this enormous task.

We will continue to work closely with the commissioners, County Council and 911 director to meet the Dec. 31, 2014, deadline.

Herbie Cruz is chairman of the Lake County Public Safety Communications Commission. The opinions are the writer's.

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