HUDSON, OH (August 14, 2019) – New regulations are making it more expensive to operate small, independent dispatch centers in compliance with various regulatory agency mandates. Over the past few years, Hudson has explored options to regionalize or combine centers that would comply with new regulations, while at the same time be cost effective.
Currently, the Hudson dispatch center equipment is 17 years old and is scheduled to be updated. “Our dispatch equipment is a workhorse that has served us over the years and continues to function well providing dispatch services to our community,” said Police Chief Perry Tabak. “As we make plans to replace it in the next few years, we need to consider the future of dispatch centers, changing technology, and how we can continue to provide quality services while meeting the changing regulatory requirements.”
After investigating various options, Chief Tabak presented three dispatch center models to City Council at Tuesday’s Workshop for consideration:
- Stand-Alone Center: Keeping a stand-alone center in Hudson and would retain our Hudson dispatchers. It would require approximately $958,000 for upgrades to current equipment, plus an increase in staffing costs for hiring four full-time employees to comply with new regulations requiring two dispatchers on duty 24/7. The cost to upgrade the equipment is currently budgeted in the 2019-2020 police department budget.
- Virtual/Partnered Dispatch Center: This option creates a virtual dispatch center by partnering with Bath Township. The initial costs of approximately $937,000 would be like the stand-alone option but a virtual center would not require additional staffing to comply with State regulations. Hudson would retain its dispatch center, and Hudson dispatchers would remain Hudson employees. Calls would roll-over to Bath as needed, and Bath dispatchers would seamlessly dispatch and communicate with Hudson’s Police, Fire and EMS units. Likewise, Hudson would dispatch for Bath safety forces as needed.
- Consolidated/Contractual Dispatch Center: Consolidating centers, would require closing Hudson’s dispatch center and contracting with Twinsburg for dispatch services. Hudson dispatchers would be moved to Twinsburg and become Twinsburg employees. It would require an annual fee to be a part of the system, plus shared operations, technology and equipment costs. These costs are yet to be determined. With Hudson no longer having a dispatch center on site, the ancillary duties now performed by Hudson dispatchers would require additional staff at HPD to cover those duties.
Chief Tabak recommended moving toward a virtual dispatch center with Bath Township. Benefits of a virtual center include:
- Saves on cost of shared equipment.
- Brings Hudson and Bath into compliance with new staffing regulations without the cost of hiring additional full-time staff.
- Keeps our dispatchers in Hudson to continue to provide the quality, individualized service that Hudson residents have come to know and trust.
- Establishes partnerships with other agencies and positions Hudson for the future as technology and regulations change.
- Immediate costs are budgeted for in the current 2019 and 2020 budgets.
Council agreed that the virtual dispatch center concept should be considered in the 5-Year Plan that will be acted on by Council later this year.