EDITORIAL: E-911 merger issue has become urgent

2013-12-02T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: E-911 merger issue has become urgent nwitimes.com
December 02, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Lake County's deadline for E-911 consolidation is rapidly approaching. The time for objections by St. John officials and others is over.

Now it's time to sign the interlocal agreement that will finally bring the consolidation the Indiana General Assembly intended when it passed legislation to force E-911 consolidation in each county.

Lake County has more public safety answering points — 911 call centers — than any other Indiana county. Consolidating to a single call center will improve emergency responses.

A single dispatcher can handle a car chase that passes through multiple communities, for example. And extra manpower is available when needed.

Crown Point Mayor David Uran said Lake County E-911 Director Brian Hitchcock convinced him to ask the City Council to sign the interlocal agreement.

"We only have two dispatchers," Uran said. "Brian can put eight dispatchers on a public safety emergency and share information to the officers on the scene, which keeps our guys safe. I can buy into what they are doing."

Lake Station Mayor Keith Soderquist, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. and East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland all support the consolidation, they said.

Griffith Town Councilman Rick Ryfa predicted his council will look favorably on the agreement, too.

That's important, because it takes time to build a new system, and there's only one year left to get the system operational and work out any kinks.

Getting the interlocal agreement signed is a crucial, and urgent, step.

It's a radically different agreement this time, too.

In the face of the St. John rebellion, the E-911 Commission has radically shaved costs, to $19.6 million. That keeps communities' costs low.

The original plan to buy all new radios as part of the consolidation effort has been scrapped. We hope communities that now will keep all their public safety income tax money will buy new radios promptly instead of using all that new revenue to boost salaries.

Officials in St. John and elsewhere now need to voice their agreement to this new plan.

The important thing is to sign the interlocal agreements quickly and get on with the consolidation process.

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