EDITORIAL: Speed up E-911 consolidation response time

2013-09-17T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Speed up E-911 consolidation response time nwitimes.com
September 17, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Lake County's E-911 consolidation effort needs to stay on track, not be distracted and delayed by the various sideshows along the way.

The latest speed bump is a plan by St. John Town Manager Steve Kil to split Lake County into north and south for E-911 call centers.

Kil wants Cedar Lake, Crown Point, Dyer, Griffith, Highland, Lowell, Munster, Schererville, St. John and county police who cover rural south county to have one call center separate from the call center for the county's urban area in the north.

While the law allows each county to have up to two public safety answering points, Kil's proposal misses the mark on the reason for the consolidation, which is to facilitate communication among the county's first responders.

Kil's proposal also comes too late in the process. Lake County has known since 2008 of the state law's Dec. 31, 2014, deadline for completing this project but wasted time whining and hoping for a reprieve instead of focusing effort on getting this consolidation done.

In combining the 18 separate dispatch centers, Lake County has a unique challenge. The second largest consolidation in Indiana involves only seven separate agencies.

But the deadline is firm, and the county stands to lose $2.6 million in annual 911 funding from the state if the deadline isn't met.

The south Lake County secession movement must be quashed. The county cannot afford two 911 dispatch systems. A single center will be expensive already.

And while the commissioners understandably blanched at the backlash from people who saw buying technology at the state's price as another no-bid contract, the commissioners should have stood firm and explained more forcefully that this would not be a no-bid contract.

The state handled the bidding process on behalf of all agencies that would buy the Motorola equipment at the state's cost.

Lake County should forget about putting the radio equipment out for another bid, a process that could take another two months. That's a waste of time when there is no time to spare.

Move quickly on putting all the technology in place so it works properly by Jan. 1, 2015.

And when the numbers are firmed up, the new interlocal agreement must be quickly approved. There is no time for the persistent squabbling that has become common with this project. There has been too much foot-dragging already.

The law is the law. Even our local legislators have said there is no point asking for a special exception. Consolidation must happen.

E-911 consolidation is an urgent matter of public safety. End the political turf wars and make this happen before the deadline.

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