How would you feel about losing your dispatchers and finding out
that your agency is not being transitioned over to the county?
private company will be paid to provide dispatching services for
That is exactly what is happening right now in Lawrence Township, a
22-square-mile town located in Mercer County,
This story should concern not only dispatchers, but corrections
officers, road cops, sheriff's officers and just about all who are
involved in the enforcement end of the criminal justice process.
But, mostly, it should concern New Jersey's citizens.
The upside for the towns: cheaper (until the contract ends and the
price substantially increases), less headaches, less logistics, and
less personnel issues.
The downside: lower quality service (we'll get back to this one),
degraded public safety, degraded safety for the officers on the
road, and the nightmare of constantly battling with the entity
providing the service.
Yes, lower quality service. This lesson is nothing new.
Better salaries attract better people.
When we paid our
cops next to nothing, there was corruption everywhere. Today,
the stories of stealing, taking bribes and shaking down businesses
have all but disappeared. And part of the reason they have
disappeared is because higher quality people don't want to work with
criminals, no matter what title they have.
It's the same with dispatchers. The better
paying agencies get the cream of the crop. And a good
dispatcher is worth his or her weight in gold to a proactive street
We have already seen examples of lower quality service with agencies
that have transitioned the dispatch function over to the county
In order to keep the contract profitable for the county,
communications operators are being given too many officers and too
many jurisdictions to monitor at once. As a result, they're
late to reply on the radio, putting out incomplete information, and
not able to monitor officers on calls and stops as they normally
would. There is just too much on their plate.
This, in turn, aggravates the road cops, and the quarrelling begins.
There are many who believe that mergers, regionalization, and
privatizing are the answer to New Jersey's problems. While
these strategies may be part of the answer, officials have to be
extremely careful when applying them to public safety.
Just because something is cheaper doesn't
mean it is better.
Make no mistake: privatizing the law enforcement function comes with
consequences. This is not a union chant, it is a fact.
Everyone should be watching this situation closely.
Below is an excerpt of an article from the
The Times of Trenton:
LAWRENCE — Only one or two members of the township’s police
dispatching crew have re-applied for jobs with iXP Corp., the
Cranbury company due to take over dispatching operations for
Lawrence in less than a month’s time.
iXP plans to hire a full-time dispatching crew of nine, with one to
three on duty at any time, but with only a small fraction of the
current staff staying aboard, the township will be losing a lot of
long-term experience and people who are intimately familiar with
township operations and systems.
But township officials, as they edge closer to the date for iXP’s
takeover April 1, a move expected to save money and free up police
officers for more patrol work, say they are confident that the
changeover will be beneficial and provide a higher quality of
Lawrence would become the first town in the state to privatize its
dispatch operations — the service that directs police and other
services to crime spots, fires, traffic snarls, and people facing
Late last month, the town and iXP signed a five-year contract worth
$719,400 a year. Under the deal, Lawrence will pay iXP $59,950 a
month. It is expected to bring savings of over $1.1 million a year,
based on a five-year projection of costs.
Payment for the new dispatch operators would be significantly less
than the township-paid employees have received — a point of
contention during the drawn-out discussions on whether to privatize.
Lawrence’s dispatchers make about $47,000 a year, with a senior
dispatcher netting about $56,000. Larry Consalvos, iXP’s president
and chief operating officer, said his company will offer dispatchers
a starting salary of around $38,000 a year.
Overall, the company has heard from over 400 applicants, 40 of whom
had some sort of dispatching experience. Of those 40 though, only
one or two were from the current Lawrence setup, Consalvos said.
Although the move to privatize the town’s dispatch was strongly
opposed by some members of the public and current town dispatchers,
who expressed concerns over levels of safety, quality of service and
potential employment, Consalvos said his company aims to deliver on
its promises of better service.
“Some of those fears are based upon the normal perception of change,
and the fear it generates. Our folks are from the community and they
will work and, in a number of cases, live in the community,”
But the debate was fierce when the decision to go private was made
Andrew Lee, the Fraternal Order of Police union president, said at
the time that privatizing was a “hasty” move and that the township
should have investigated options for keeping the existing dispatch
staff on payroll.
“I’ve worked with them and I can tell you any time I’ve gone to a
call, I felt comfortable. They know what they’re doing. To lose that
would be an absolute deficit to this town,” Lee said in January.
Consalvos has said all iXP employees will undergo training and
certification courses on database usage, privacy, CPR, basic
telecommunications, and emergency medical dispatching.
For the full article,