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PENNSYLVANIA STATE POLICE Lawmaker questions dispatch center merger



Published: Wed, May 9, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



There could be some layoff of civilians, a state rep says.

GREENVILLE, Pa. -- State Rep. Rod Wilt of Greenville, R-17th, said the Pennsylvania State Police need to give a little more thought to the agency's plans to consolidate its 81 dispatch centers into just five.

Lawmakers learned of the agency's plans during state budget hearings in Harrisburg last week, Wilt said.

State police contend the consolidation will increase department efficiency by transferring 173 troopers from behind dispatch desks to highway patrol duty, but Wilt said he has some serious questions about the plan.

Questions: Can the police guarantee that a reduced number of dispatch centers won't result in slower reaction time to distress calls, particularly in rural areas? he asked.

"If they can't make that guarantee, then they need to rethink consolidation," Wilt said.

There is also a concern that dispatchers won't be adequately familiar with areas from which they receive distress calls and there are questions about communication between the state police and emergency responders and local police officers, he said.

"Skepticism here is certainly warranted when you're talking about a 94 percent reduction in the number of dispatch units," he said.

Wilt is also concerned about the possibility of lost jobs should some barracks shut down after the dispatch consolidation. The barracks do employ some civilians and the loss of those jobs would affect regional economies, he said.




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