Lawrence M. Walsh
Over the past few months, members of the Will County ETSB (Emergency Telephone System Board), and other public safety stakeholders, have been meeting to discuss options for consolidation of the county’s six 9-1-1 dispatch centers. The passage of Public Act 99-0006 in May 2015, requires Will County to reduce from the existing six centers to three regional dispatch centers across the County.
“Great progress has been made in recent weeks as we move to comply with this state law,” said Walsh. “This new legislation has the goal of improving public safety by streamlining operations at our local dispatch centers and reducing the number of call transfers between facilities which should result in faster response times for the public.”
The County is currently working on plans to construct a new Sheriff’s law enforcement facility at its Laraway Campus. The County has offered to build the dispatch center at no charge to those centers that are being forced to consolidate due to the new state law. The agencies will pay ongoing operational costs for their participation in the center, but the county will not seek repayment for the construction costs. County leaders hope this will avoid endless debates over where the new facility will be located and keep construction costs lower.
"By building a new, modern dispatch center on the county's Laraway Road campus, we can improve public safety, become more efficient and realize long term savings for Will County taxpayers," said County Speaker Jim Moustis. "This is one project that requires us to come together and work with each other in order to better serve our residents, and I strongly encourage everyone involved to consider the county's proposal as a solution to the need for consolidation."
Walsh noted the cooperation with the County Board on this proposal should result in this process of consolidation moving forward more rapidly. At this week’s ETSB meeting, county officials proposed the construction of a 15,000 square foot regional dispatch center that could house Sheriff’s department, Romeoville, Lincoln Way, and Eastcom centers. These four centers currently operate independently, but could all join together to form a third regional dispatch center. The other two existing dispatch centers – WESCOM in Plainfield and the City of Joliet’s center – will remain as stand-alone dispatch centers.
The new law requires Will County’s ETSB to submit a plan by July 1, 2016 that outlines how the consolidation will occur, and must be completed July 1, 2017. This tight time frame requires rapid actions by all stakeholders.
“The positive response we have received thus far from our proposal demonstrates how the various levels of government working together can achieve great things,” said Walsh. “We are completing the details of this reorganization, and are confident that we will be moving forward soon with a final plan.”
The county’s ETSB is made up of officials from Will County government, police and fire agencies, dispatch centers, and the general public. The 15 members on the board have the main responsibility of oversight of the larger 9-1-1 system which serve the residents of Will County, as well as portions of Cook, Kendall, and Grundy.