From Debra Hall
Retired Waterford Township dispatcher
Recently in the media there has again been some discussion about absorbing the Waterford Township Police Department Communications Division into the Oakland County Sheriffs Department. Trustee Anthony Bartolotta has been quoted in both (another media outlet) and the Spinal Column (Newsweekly) regarding this and I would like to address the information in both articles. He is quoted as using Wixom as a comparison in this absorption issue. According to the 2010 Census, Wixom has a population of 13,498. Waterford Township has a population of 71,707. That does not include the number people who come to Waterford from other communities to work. Is that a fair comparison? I would believe that their calls for service in relation to public safety are markedly different.
According to the Oakland County 911 Service District 2012 Report to the State 911 Committee, a combined total of 108,000 incoming calls were received in the Communications Center. This includes 911 land lines, 911 cell lines and non-emergency land lines. These phone calls resulted in 28,800 dispatched police runs and 6,000 dispatched fire runs or calls for service. The professional police/fire dispatchers, who are also emergency medical dispatchers, receive every one of these calls and they are trained, certified and mandated to prioritize then utilize township personnel and equipment in a safe and efficient manner. They also spend a great deal of time on the phone addressing the needs of the citizens with a myriad of concerns.
As for the projection of cost to the taxpayers whether the “calls” Mr. Bartolotta refers to are one or the other, clearly there will be additional costs to this alleged solution. Have the costs been tallied based on real statistics? How will overtime be charged to the township? Are there other costs still not investigated? How much will be saved? How have other communities with similar statistics contracting the Oakland County fared, cost-wise, over time? Does such a comparison exist?
I am certain that the communications agents at Oakland County are dedicated, hard working employees. The issue is, what will the real cost be for Waterford Township? I would respectfully ask that the Waterford Township Board (of Trustees), and in particular, Mr. Bartolotta, thoroughly investigate all these issues before making a decision that is going to seriously alter the lives of dedicated employees. If they are hired by the county, will they be forced to take a pay cut? How will pensions they have worked so hard toward be affected? In these challenging economic times there are many things to be considered, including what the real cost may actually be in dollars and in services.