Police and fire officials in Lake County have accepted an offer they couldn't refuse -- free space at the Lake County Government Center in Crown Point to house the consolidated E911 dispatch service. It's a smart move.
A training facility inside an East Chicago municipal building would be used for training dispatchers and in the unlikely event that the Crown Point site became unusable because of a natural disaster or other cause.
Part of the deal involves relocating the county health department to make room for the E911 center. That's not so bad, because the Good Government Initiative report several years ago urged moving the health department to make it more accessible to the public.
There has been much grousing about the consolidation effort, with some police chiefs and elected officials complaining that dispatchers at a remote location wouldn't serve their community as well as dispatchers at a centralized call center. That's hogwash, as the experience elsewhere has shown. It's also too late for this argument anyway.
State law requires the consolidated call centers to be operational by Jan. 1, 2015, no exceptions. Counties that miss that deadline face serious financial penalties.
Lake County's municipalities still need to sign an interlocal agreement that spells out their obligations for funding the service and that prevents any municipality from dropping out of the system. There's no going back.
Other details have to be worked out as well, with the result that police and fire officials all across the county will be able to talk with each other more easily in the event of an emergency. The need to get everyone on the same wavelengths was one of the lessons of the 9/11 tragedy.
Just as with responding to a 911 call, there's no time to waste in the consolidation effort.
Now that Lake County's public safety officials have settled on the site for the E911 dispatch center, keep pushing on implementation to beat the deadline.