Officials studying the feasibility of a regional emergency dispatch center in northern Wood County are hoping their proposal fits the criteria of a new state program that offers financial incentives for local governments to come up with innovative ideas in the sharing and delivering of services.
Through the program, called the Local Government Innovation Fund, the Ohio Department of Development is trying to promote efficiency and collaboration among local entities.
An informational session to acquaint public officials with the program is scheduled for Jan. 18 at Owens Community College.
Lake Township Police Chief Mark Hummer plans to attend, saying a regional dispatch center that’s being studied and would include the township, cities of Rossford and Northwood, and Village of Walbridge appears to be “tailor made” for what the LGIF program is seeking.
“Going with the mantra coming out of Columbus for local governments to not have so much duplication of services, I think what we’re looking at is ideal for this type of initiative,” Chief Hummer said.
Currently, Rossford and Walbridge contract with Lake Township for 24-hour 9-1-1 dispatch service. The call center is located at a former Ohio Highway Patrol post on Lemoyne Road the township purchased a few years ago.
Northwood handles its own emergency dispatching service at a facility in the police department on Wales Road.
For more than a year, representatives of the communities have been meeting to try to determine if dispatching service for all four could be efficiently combined and improved.
One option being considered is to extend the software used by Northwood police and manufactured by Alert Public Safety Solutions, Inc. for the proposed regional format.
The software supports the department’s computer aided dispatch system, which enables police officers to log onto a data base of arrest records and related reports from their vehicles.
Thomas Cairl, the chief of the city’s police department, said he’s also been looking into an upgrade that would allow dispatchers to view the locations of the patrol cruisers.
Last fall, Chief Hummer and others visited the Crawford County Sheriff’s Department where the Alert software is in use for police and fire departments throughout the county as well as the City of Bucyrus.
“I think it’s a system that would serve us well,” Chief Hummer said of the Crawford County system.
Under a regional CAD system, police officers from the four departments could communicate with each other while on patrol and have access to a common data base of arrest records and reports.
Northwood Administrator Dennis Recker, who also plans to attend the LGIF session at Owens, said the program offers grants and loans for communities to plan collaborative projects.
“We’re going to sit down and compare notes after we’ve had an opportunity to hear the information from the state and see what it’s going to take to put applications together – and do that collectively,” he said. “I think we’ll be doing this as a group for our collaboration projects.”
According to the department of development, the program, which is included in the state’s biennium budget, has been allocated $45 million in fiscal year 2013 and funds will be awarded in two tiers: one for governments of less than 50,000 population and counties with less than 130,000, and a second tier for larger governments.
Up to 20 percent of the funds will be awarded as grants, the remainder through a revolving loan program to be repaid from savings realized from the new efficiencies. Each government entity is eligible for up to $100,000 and projects with multiple participants are eligible for up to $500,000. School districts are also eligible.
Chief Hummer said informal talks have also been held with the Lucas County Sheriff’s Department about linking with the 800-megahertz county-wide radio system for first responders.
He said Perrysburg Township has also expressed interest in linking with the other four Wood County towns in a joint computer assisted dispatching program and linking to Lucas County radio system. The township has indicated it intends to stay with its current dispatching service.