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City proposes closing out its dispatch setup

April 17, 2012

Decatur Mayor John Schultz

    Dispatch transmissions that currently go to the Decatur Police Department may soon be routed instead to the Adams County Sheriff's Department's communications center if a proposal by Decatur Mayor John Schultz is accepted by the Adams County Commissioners and Decatur City Council members.
    Schultz, accompanied by Police Chief Ken Ketzler and Sheriff Shane Rekeweg, met with the commissioners Monday to discuss the possible change, noting that all 911 communications are already handled by the sheriff's office.
    The police station currently employs two dispatchers, according to Schultz. Under the proposed agreement, Schultz said one of the dispatchers would be moved to a clerical position inside the department, while one would hopefully be absorbed by the county.
    Schultz stated that he believes the timing of this transition is nearly perfect as the dispatch center has recently been granted approval to begin renovations. He believes the city and county can come to an agreement, putting the transition in line with the completion of renovations.
    Furthermore, Schultz said that some of the money that has been budgeted for wages for 2012 could possibly be used, pending council approval, to help finance the renovation of the dispatch center. He estimated this amount could be in the neighborhood of $15,000-$20,000.
    Rekeweg said there would be some additional cost for initial training for whomever would transfer to the communication center. However, overall, it is believed that the cost for county residents would decrease as there would no longer be someone in the police station around-the-clock.
    Schultz said that when the dispatch center is transferred to the sheriff's department, all calls to the police station would automatically go to the sheriff's office after 4 p.m., eliminating the need for personnel in the office.
    The police department will have cameras installed, which will allow dispatchers at the communications center to monitor activity at the station after hours and contact uniformed officers should the need arise, according to Schultz.
    The cities of Berne and Geneva already utilize the sheriff's dispatch center after regular business hours, according to Rekeweg.
    Commissioners were in agreement that the proposed blending of dispatch centers would be good for the county and suggested the trio meet with city council for approval before going any further.

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