Police deem 911 center inadequate, won’t join
The county can’t fund two
dispatching systems, a
By TIM YOVICH
VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF
WARREN — Police departments that dispatch their own calls don’t want to join the Trumbull County 911 Center until its service improves.
Niles Police Chief Bruce Simeone, president of the Trumbull County Law Enforcement Executives Association, made the departments’ position made known during a Wednesday meeting with county commissioners.
“It is our recommendation to maintain the status quo,” Simeone told commissioners.
Commissioner Paul E. Heltzel argued that the county can’t continue to support the dispatching by some departments and operate the 911 center.
Mike Dolhancryk, 911 center director, said it’s a matter of spending money wisely.
He explained the county has paid communications company Embarq $750,000 during the past five years to maintain communications equipment at the individual police departments.
The seven that dispatch their own calls are Warren, Liberty Township, Girard, Newton Falls, Niles (which dispatches for Weathersfield Township and McDonald), Hubbard City and Lordstown (which dispatches for Warren Township).
Dolhancryk said Embarq wants $350,000 to provide equipment and maintenance the first year of a proposed five-year agreement. The cost of the other four years isn’t known.
The 911 center’s budget this year is $2 million.
Embarq wants a new contract with the county by June 30.
“We are not under the gun on this,” Dolhancryk said, noting Embarq is willing to maintain the current equipment on a materials-plus-time basis for now.
Simeone argued that the equipment is out of date and is starting to affect the safety of residents, police and firefighters.
A personal touch
Some of the chiefs, including Frank Bigowsky of Girard and Anthony Slifka of Liberty, said that dispatching through 911 doesn’t provide those in need of help with the personal touch.
Slifka implored the commissioners to keep the current system until the 911 center improves its service so the departments that don’t use it will want to join.
Hubbard Police Chief Marty Kanetsky said his dispatchers even know the callers’ voices.
Warren Police Capt. Tim Bowers said police officers need constant communications with a dispatcher while responding to a call, something the 911 center can’t provide.
He pointed out that as a dispatcher gets added information, more police services can be provided to help the officer.
Dolhancryk said he’s not in the business to put individual community dispatching out of service.
If the current system continues with the county purchasing equipment for them and paying to maintain it, however, the county will face the same problem in five years when another contact with Embarq expires, he added.