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Dropping dispatchers may save city some $100,000

April 19, 2012

    The plan to close down the dispatch center at the Decatur police station and have all calls handled through the communications center in the county jail could produce a savings of up to $100,000 for the city, Mayor John Schultz said at Tuesday night's city council meetjng.
    Schultz had initially unveiled the plans at Monday's meeting of the county commissioners, where he found support.
    Talking about the idea at the council meeting, Schultz said "the timing is right" since bids are being taken for a renovation of the comm center.
    When the changeover would occur isn't definite at this time, due to the renovation plans, "but I'm shooting for July 1," he added.
    The city currently has three full-time dispatchers in its budget for this year, but, tragically, one of them, Dean Ingmire, lost his life in a fire a few months back. Of the other two, one will take a new secretarial position for the local police department — performing many of the bookkeeping chores currently handled by dispatchers — and the other "hopefully will move over to the county (comm center), if she wants to," the mayor added.
    Schultz praised the cooperation he's received from Sheriff Shane Rekeweg and suggested that some of the city's savings could be used to help pay for the renovation of the comm center.
    And to those who say the city should pay the county to handle its calls, he pointed out that Berne, Monroe and Geneva do not make such payments, nor does anyone else in Adams County. "People seem to forget that residents of Decatur pay county taxes, too," he said
    The plan calls for essentially closing the police station to the public at 4 or 5 p.m. each day. Someone calling to talk to an officer after that time would reach the comm center and the officer would be directed by a dispatcher. And a camera would be mounted in the city PD so officials at the jail could monitor the building in the evening hours.
    It was noted, too, that all 911 calls already go to the county center.
    Police Chief Ken Ketzler said his officers would still be performing their duties. "We will not be missing any calls (for assistance, problems, etc.)," he said. "We just won't have a person behind the counter (at the police station) after 4 or 5 o'clock."
    The chief said that while "it will take a little tweaking, some getting used to," he sees no major problems with the change.

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