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TRUMBULL COUNTY Staff layoffs put squeeze on 911



Published: Mon, March 17, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



A dispatch supervisor resigned, saying the reduced staffing endangered lives.

By PEGGY SINKOVICH

and STEPHEN SIFF

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

HOWLAND -- Day-shift supervisor Rodger Laird is not a superstitious person, but he's spending most of his eight-hour shifts these days with his fingers tightly crossed.

Laird and the other 24 people working at the Trumbull County 911 Center are trying to adapt with a smaller staff.

The county's financial woes have forced director Tim Gladis to lay off eight full-time dispatchers, two part-time dispatchers and 1 supervisor.

"Everything is quiet right now," Laird said. "This is our first week [since the cuts], so we are just hoping things stay quiet."

On Thursday, Trumbull County commissioners approved a new 2003 budget with enough additional funds to bring back one or two of the laid-off dispatchers, Gladis said.

"It is still going to be way deficient to the call volume," he said.

The recent round of layoffs had resulted in times when three dispatchers are working instead of six, Gladis said.

"I've created two overlap shifts to provide at least partial coverage for the busier times," Gladis said. "Things are fine unless something happens. If something major happens, we are screwed."

Supervisor resigned

The reduced staff took another hit Tuesday when dispatch supervisor Debra D. Walter resigned, saying in her one-page letter that continuing to operate on reduced manpower would be "placing the value of a dollar over loss of property or even life."

"This department should not take a back seat to any political agenda," Walter's letter of resignation states. "Our homeland security is of utmost importance. Working with a skeletal crew prior to any layoffs, and now losing over one-third of our personnel, is not meeting those goals.

"This decline of service has us moving towards a potential lethal condition."

Gladis agrees.

"The worst thing will be if and when we get a major incident or event during the times we are short," Gladis said.

"We will certainly be overwhelmed and will be unable to handle the call volume. This seriously compromises public safety and the integrity of the whole system, especially when one considers the fact that all criminal-justice activity begins here. The whole system will suffer."

Typical workload

The 911 center handles 10 different frequencies and dispatches 8 to 10 calls per hour.

"We may receive 20 calls about one bad car crash, but we just log that as one call because all those calls deal with the same matter. Our phones are always ringing."

Trumbull County 911 serves all local departments in Trumbull County except Warren, Niles, Girard, Hubbard, Lordstown, Newton Falls and Liberty.

siff@vindy.comsinkovich@vindy.com




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