Lake County is so far behind in its E-911 consolidation that it's gone from embarrassing to horrifying. The recent talk of changing consultants only reinforces this view.
We're not talking about merging all police and fire operations here. This is purely about dispatching.
The ideal structure would be to set up a governing board for a stand-alone countywide system, with representatives from each department, to run this agency.
The Lake County Council has balked at repeated demands to sign an interlocal agreement for this system because the costs aren't known yet.
That's why it's time to change consultants, but to change to consultants who have done this work before. Get someone in there who knows how to accomplish the consolidation before the state-imposed deadline of Dec. 31, 2014, and stop the stalling.
Hire consultants like Dan McDevitt and Terry Hillard, both of whom have indicated their willingness to help.
McDevitt, a former Lansing police chief, is co-owner of the consulting group REM Management Services and has global experience on public safety issues. He helped Porter County solve its problems.
Hillard is familiar with large dispatch centers, having served as Chicago's police superintendent as part of his more than three decades of service in the Chicago Police Department. He is now a partner and co-founder of the Hillard Heintze consulting firm.
These are the types of consultants Lake County needs to solve this E-911 merger puzzle.
Make it a standalone agency, not an expansion of anyone's political power. Solve the cost and funding issues quickly. Ordering and installing the equipment, along with hiring and training staff, will take time.
And keep that deadline in mind. The financial penalties of not complying would be costly. And Lake County doesn't need to show another black eye downstate, either.
Do it right, and do it now.