Talks reopen on centralized dispatch

By Josh Ellerbrock -

LIMA — Commissioners plan to see if there is interest throughout Allen County of a centralized dispatch system run by the sheriff’s office.

A license agreement for the purchase of software for an updated dispatch radio system was approved Thursday by Allen County Commissioners. In combination with a radio system equipment purchase last week, the county is on track to revamp its 911 and dispatch system at the cost of roughly $580,000.

Commissioner Cory Noonan said the current system was scheduled for replacement due to its age, but the county took the extra step to select a new system with additional room for growth and expansion.

“It’s a very good system that’s very adaptable and user-friendly,” Noonan said. “That has been one of the primary goals looking at this — making sure we have something that allows us to do what we’re doing.”

Because of the growth option, the county is re-engaging with both Shawnee Township and the City of Lima to see if the two municipalities are interested in contracting with the county for 911 and dispatch services. The two are holdouts from a 2015 effort to centralize dispatch systems.

At that time, Lima Police Department Chief Kevin Martin said a study proved that consolidation didn’t provide the right cost benefits to the city to make the change, but with the new system in place, the option is worth re-examining.

“Those discussions are underway again,” Martin said.

An added difficulty for the City of Lima is finding out how its Smart City Initiative fits in with the new system, Martin said. The city just approved a contract that would normalize case and incident management data between its safety services department, and the county’s new 911 and dispatch system would need to be able sync effectively. If that hurdle is overcome, Martin said the city is willing to consider centralization.

“If we can cut cost and improve service, we’re always willing to do that,” Martin said. “What we don’t want to do is risk cutting service.”

The county estimates that implementation of the new system will most likely take between 12 to 18 months from its initial purchase this week.

“Are we improving service and efficiencies? That is the focus if you’re going to do something like this,” Noonan said.

By Josh Ellerbrock

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.

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