Friday, March 29, 2013

Bellevue considers dispatch contract

Sun Valley mayor says hed prefer to remain with county

Express Staff Writer

The Bellevue City Council was scheduled to meet Thursday night with the expectation of signing an agreement for dispatch of administrative law enforcement calls with Southern Idaho Regional Communication, though the contract depends on the cities of Hailey and Sun Valley signing identical documents.

Sun Valley officials said they are working on a plan to keep their city with Blaine County consolidated dispatch for all calls. Mayor Dewayne Briscoe said Wednesday that he planned to attend Bellevue’s meeting, and that he also planned to discuss an alternative plan presented by the city’s temporary public safety director, Walt Femling, during a city council meeting on Thursday, April 4.

Briscoe said Femling has been working on “a plan for funding that would be a combination of both calls [for service] and addresses and incidents.”

Femling said he was doing his “due diligence” to see if it might be more beneficial for Sun Valley to stay with Blaine County Consolidated Dispatch, but that he could not share his proposal yet. He said he has only worked with the county so far, and has not yet consulted with the other cities regarding his proposed funding method.

“I really have to get to the other users and sit down with them,” he said. “I’ve only met with one county official, and I need to meet with the others before we go public with anything.”

Femling said his report would also include the impacts on the Sun Valley Police Department of contracting with SIRCOMM. Briscoe said the city has not yet given up on contracting with the regional dispatch provider for service of administrative calls, those made to the police department offices after hours and for traffic stops and status updates.

“Everything is on the table for discussion,” he said. “[But] my preference is that we work within the existing system.”

SIRCOMM Director John Moore said he has been working with representatives of the cities since last year on a way to take over administrative calls. 

“We figured we could assist them and help ourselves out a little bit,” he said. “We have the staff in place and would need to hire only a few people to take on the additional calls.”

Though Moore said SIRCOMM does not have an agreement with any jurisdiction to take only nonemergency calls, it does have procedures in place to transfer accidental emergency calls to the appropriate dispatch centers.

Capt. Matthew Hicks at the Twin Falls Police Department said the city of Twin Falls was one of the founding members of SIRCOMM but left about 10 years ago to form its own dispatch center. The reason, Hicks said, was because Twin Falls accounted for most of the calls for service to SIRCOMM but felt it did not have enough representation on the board. 

Still, he said, the city’s communications center has a good working relationship with SIRCOMM. While the city deals with police, fire and public works calls, all medical calls must be sent to SIRCOMM, which dispatches the third-party county ambulance service.

“It’s just a one-button transfer,” he said. “Our dispatch stays on the line to ensure the call goes through.”

Moore said SIRCOMM would have no trouble transferring emergency calls from Hailey or other cities to Blaine County dispatch quickly and effectively.

“If we would by chance get a phone call that we would deem an emergency, we would transfer it immediately to Blaine County dispatch,” he said. “We get nonemergency calls that turn into emergency calls. Our job at SIRCOMM is to answer the phones and send help.” 

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