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County Dispatch Service Criticized By Twp. Officials

Township committee sees recurring problems in first year of communications arrangement.

A year after Washington Township switched its emergency dispatch system over to the county command center, the municipality’s governing body says things aren’t going as planned.

“(The county dispatch system) clearly isn’t working as well as we want them to,” Mayor Ken Short said.

Short mentioned there was a mix-up in communications with an emergency call at Cobblestone Fields recently, which only adds to a growing list of gaffes between the county and township.

A letter from the attorney representing the Washington Township Police Benevolence Association Local #301 has been sent to the county regarding communication problems as well, Short said.

“I’ve heard from some of our guys the problem is the inconsistency,” Vice Mayor Bill Roehrich said. “(The county) says it’s fine, but we’re saying it’s intermittent.”

The problem needs to be fixed, and sooner than later, Short said.

“Two of our former dispatchers took jobs there when we switched over,” Short said. “But I know some of the dispatchers there have been let go and there’s been mix-ups in road and town names. We need to get this working right.”

Procedure vs. Technical

While lack of signal and mix up of road names may be to blame for some of the problems, one of the committeemen wondered if it was on the procedural end.

“We had a recent incident where residents were calling for information, and dispatchers were sending mixed messages,” said James LiaBraaten. “You can have the best system in the world, but it doesn’t matter if procedures are off.”

In August, Washington Township Police and members of the New Jersey State Police aviation unit diffused a situation where a suicidal, shotgun-wielding man was found in a cornfield.

During that incident, residents were told by county dispatchers that authorities were looking for a missing person–not an armed and potentially dangerous one.

After that situation, chief of police Michael Bailey said had there been local dispatchers taking care of the situation as was done in the past, there may have not been a problem that night.

"The (dispatch system) isn't any worse than what we had, but we have higher expectations (for it)," Short said.

Bailey will meet with the township committee at Monday night’s regular meeting, scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the municipal building. The public is encouraged to attend. 

Tired of the Lies September 17, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Good thing we switched to the County Communications Center. We saved so much money. Where is the savings Mayor/Committee? We had a perfectly functioning system running where you and your committee could have retained other towns to dispatch for. Where is the shared Services you harp on? Where is the saving? Where is the money gone from laying off those dispatchers and not having to maintain all of the equipment?
Liberty September 17, 2012 at 02:51 PM
A big "DUH" to the town. Local dispatching should be done by local dispatchers. They know the town, the streets, the lanes, the dirt road. They know the people--who is a chronic caller, what might be fake, the nuances of the citizens of the town. Wait till someone dies because of a "mixed-up" call and see how much that will cost you, Mr. Mayor.
Domino September 17, 2012 at 04:00 PM
"You can have the best system in the world but it doesn't mean anything if the procedures are off". "The county dispatch system isn't any worse than what we had..." "The county says it's fine but we're saying it's intermittant" Another example of the shining light that is the Washington Township Committee.
Thomas Lotito September 17, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Domino, wrong again! The county system is a mess and not meeting our emergency needs. I told you so in 2010. And I'm telling you again today. The county dispatchers are woefully inept, could cost someone their life.
Domino September 18, 2012 at 12:47 AM
Mr. Lotito, the quotations I copied were directly from the mouths of your friends on the township committee, not from me. If you read it, you will see that they were taken directly from the above article. This is what your pals said. Please don't attribute their comments to me. It would appear that they are more worried about offending their Morris County Republican cronies than they are the taxpayers of Washington Township. Your good buddy Ken Short needs to worry less about his chances of getting elected Freeholderor getting a cushy county position and focus on his current job.
Thomas Lotito September 18, 2012 at 01:33 AM
Domino, First off Ken Short is not running for Freeholder. Second, weren't you a big supporter of the WT going to the county system? That's why I attributed the comments to you, And third; you're always attacking the Township committee, no natter what they do you're never happy. I do not like the county system, I called once for a down electrical wire that started a fire near my house and I had a hard time getting the dispatcher to understand that I was in Long Valley not Long Hill. Other residents have similar stories.
Domino September 18, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Thank you for the update and official announcement on Mr. Short's political future. We were all holding our breath. I have not taken any "stand" on the dispatch nor should anyone care what my opinion is. I'm not an elected official. As far as the TC goes I simply point out what I see. I guess the truth hurts.
Thomas Lotito September 18, 2012 at 02:25 PM
Domino, Who is we, and who are you kidding? You're always supporting the big gov. spending model. And as far as pointing out the truth about the TC, what you see is not truth, you always have negative things to say about the TC because you don't personally like them, except for Dave Kennedy.
Domino September 18, 2012 at 02:38 PM
"the big government spending model". What the %#@*% are you smoking?
Thomas Lotito September 18, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Kaboom!!!, your head explodes when confronted with the fact that you are for more government spending.....it was nice having a conversation for a change, peace Domino.
Paul Winchell September 18, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Thomas, I will state that the TC gets killed on this site, however, it is a public forum and people like to complain about anything and everything. Having said that, you msut stop defending you personal friend Ken Short. While I admire your intentions, your friend is not above criticism.
Thomas Lotito September 18, 2012 at 05:27 PM
I agree Paul, no one is above criticism, but when poster feels like bashing the TC with ad hominem attacks, defending the TC is perfectly acceptable.

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