EDITORIAL: Answer call to action on E-911 consolidation

2014-01-31T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Answer call to action on E-911 consolidation nwitimes.com
January 31, 2014 12:00 am  • 

Lake County's response to the call for E-911 consolidation can't be called sluggish. That would imply more speed than the process has seen so far.

Four communities — Cedar Lake, Highland, Schererville and St. John — still haven't signed the interlocal agreement for E-911 consolidation.

All the others have either signed it already or are going through the approval process.

The clock is ticking for the Dec. 31 deadline to complete this project. 

Those four communities are holding up the consolidation efforts.

The consolidation effort has gone through a host of emotions and rebellious efforts, everything from complaining about losing dispatchers to concerns about being unfamiliar with other areas in the county to trying to get the law changed. 

Last year, a rebellion led by St. John officials brought a compromise that drove down the official cost of the consolidation, shifting the burden for some radio gear onto municipalities. The time for any further negotiations on the interlocal agreement has come and gone.

The law won't change, and the deadline is rigid.

Failing to meet that deadline means losing $2.6 million annually — money paid by Lake County residents through the 911 surcharges on their phone bills.

Even more important, there is equipment to purchase, install and program to make sure it is working properly. There are employees to hire and train. There are all sorts of procedures to establish and scenarios to think through before the system goes live.

Concerns about building a database that recognizes former landmarks — like businesses that have been closed, previous owners of a property and other outdated information — must be addressed.

But doing so requires getting the interlocal agreement adopted so implementation can begin in earnest.

Approve the agreement now, so the conversion can be completed as smoothly as possible.

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