By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The city began the discussion of possibly expanding its consolidated dispatch operation to include Westland, Garden City, Wayne and Inkster which are under Westland’s dispatch center.
During a study session at the Dearborn Administrative Center, 16901 Michigan Ave., the City Council opted to look further into the possible expansion, asking the administration for more information and numbers before taking the next step. No action was taken during the meeting.
The study session was the beginning of adding Westland after its mayor, police chief and council president expressed interest to join Dearborn on a partnership.
Westland Police Chief Jeff Jedrusik said the city’s dispatch center has 19 employees, with a budget for 25 employees but that he approached Dearborn because the department is outgrowing the facility.
Dearborn Police Chief Ronald Haddad said adding more cities would make the dispatch services more cost efficient and more efficient with response to calls.
“From an operational perspective, I can tell you that this has made sense to me for a real long time,” Haddad said. “In the event that Westland were to come on, they currently do dispatch for Wayne, Inkster and Garden City.
“We’ve had informal conversations with those three cities as has Westland, and they’re very much interested and committed to come to Dearborn in the event Westland comes over.”
All three cities, Dearborn, Melvindale and Westland are partners in the Western Wayne Fire Department Mutual Aid and have worked together in the past as Dearborn Mayor John O’Reilly Jr. said.
“Whatever happens, the state is intending to move in this direction,” O’Reilly said. “They’re setting out requirements that they’re looking to get from everyone so that the state has a common system and that’s what their goal is.
“This would be saying, ‘OK. We want to work with our partners to make it work here in a way that’s good for everybody and not something that’s going to be imposed upon.’”
Since the spring, Dearborn has provided dispatch services to Melvindale. There currently are 29 employees at the Dearborn dispatch center and that could be increased to 38 under the expansion with new dispatchers and a director for the center.
“The process for our dispatch is set up for call takers, dispatchers, fire, police and also a designated LEIN operator,” Haddad said, “and until we get more cities involved we don’t have the capability to hire dispatchers just to do these three functions. The design of the equipment and our dispatch is to have call takers, dispatchers and a LEIN operator which tends to make the system far more efficient and much quicker.”
There are eight consolidated dispatch centers in the southeast region, and the state is moving in that direction for the future, so Dearborn would be taking initiative with an expansion, Haddad explained.
Haddad’s recommendation to the council was to allow Westland, plus the cities it serves to come on board in Dearborn under a five-year agreement. The possible contract would have a look back four years into the agreement for the cities to review and renegotiate.
Dearborn Corporation Counsel Debra Walling said the contract presented was strictly a draft and the council could add or make changes.
There are no formal discussions with Dearborn Heights to join the Dearborn dispatch center, but Heights Council members Dave Abdallah and Lisa Hicks-Clayton were in attendance at the meeting.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)