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Local dispatch center consolidation plan moves forward

By ROSS FLINT - rflint@shelbynews.com

Plans to improve the Shelbyville and Shelby County 9-1-1 dispatch centers took a step forward following a 3-0 approval by the Shelby County Commissioners in Monday’s meeting.

The two centers are located in the same room but operate as separate entities. Local officials are looking at consolidating the two to improve service.

The city and county still need to formalize an agreement on consolidation, said Barry Ritter, vice president of Ritter Strategic Services LLC, which is working with both governments.

He estimated the project will take 18-24 months.

“Doing consolidation is one thing, but most importantly is doing it right,” he told the commissioners.

The city and county had three options while initially meeting with Ritter Strategic Services: Stay as is, consolidate with an adjoining county, or consolidate the city and county’s Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) operations, he said after the meeting.

The company’s recommendation was for the latter.

“We think that consolidating in Shelby County is in the best interest of the public safety response,” he told the commissioners. “The consolidation is always done with the purpose of improving public safety. You will subsequently save money over time. There will be an investment for capital in the beginning, but we never look at consolidation for the sole purpose of saving money.”

Sheriff Louie Koch said that city officials have expressed a desire to consolidate. Days where staffing is limited at the centers makes it difficult, he said.

Ritter said after the meeting that they will look at appointing a consolidation committee and will consider aspects from personnel to the technology used.

“You consolidate here, you improve your service here, you improve your technology here, and when you make that decision, you’re going to be in a better position in the future,” he said.