EDITORIAL: E-911 holdouts, answer call to action

2014-03-25T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: E-911 holdouts, answer call to action nwitimes.com
March 25, 2014 12:00 am  • 

The deadline for accomplishing E-911 consolidation in Lake County is just nine months away, yet four communities are still dragging their feet.

The consolidation process is continuing without them, fortunately, but they need to sign on pronto so the inevitable wrinkles can be worked out before Jan. 1, 2015.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller should throw his weight around on this issue.

This month, Lake County Council President Ted Bilski promised there would be no new taxes to pay for E-911 service despite the county taking on so much of the expense of this consolidation.

Last week, the county purchased a new Motorola radio system and extended warranty, through 2030, for $18.1 million. Commissioner Mike Repay, D-Hammond, said Wednesday the county's consultant warned maintenance costs could easily exceed the original equipment price, so the county locked in those costs.

County E-911 Director Brian Hitchcock correctly noted this is an important milestone for the county after more than five years of indecision.

Only five years? It seems longer. 

Frankly, we're getting sick of seeing this process drag on. It's a huge black eye for Lake County.

State law mandates the consolidation. Currently, 17 separate police and fire dispatch centers exist. By year's end, those must be consolidated into a single countywide service. Lake County, with so many separate E-911 call centers is the poster child for this state law.

We credit the Lake County Council for saying there will be no new taxes to fund E-911, but we're sorely disappointed in the four communities that still haven't signed on to the county consolidation agreement.

Cedar Lake, Highland, St. John and Schererville have yet to sign the necessary interlocal agreement.

If those towns haven't signed that agreement by June 1, Zoeller should file legal action to compel them to do so.

Before the end of the year, there is much to be done to get the equipment ready — including programming the gear with as much information as possible about addresses throughout the county so all the information is available at the dispatcher's fingertips — and to train dispatchers appropriately.

Those four towns should be cooperating with this important public safety planning process, not hampering it.

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