Central dispatch should become a reality in Portage County in August.
Stevens Point Mayor Andrew Halverson said the agreement for a central dispatch with Stevens Point and Portage County should come to the Common Council at its Monday, May 20, meeting after the Police and Fire Commission reviews and comments on the proposal.
Halverson’s comments came after a lengthy closed session on the proposal Monday, April 29, when the Council sent the current draft of an agreement to the Commission.
“There’s nothing we need to negotiate further,” Halverson said. “We anticipate it being approved by them (Commission members) and then the Common Council. It’s a historic move in intergovernmental cooperation that places public safety as the main concern and puts political differences aside.”
A central dispatch for the Stevens Point Police Department, the Portage County Sheriff’s Department, emergency medical services and area fire departments had been proposed periodically, at least since the 1970s. But every time, one party or the other withdrew from negotiations.
Halverson said this time the city and the county got together and realized that, although each has specific needs, the public safety needs are paramount. “We will create a safer county.”
Presently, Stevens Point has a dispatch center that handles more than half of the emergency calls in the county and staffs it with at least one dispatcher during the usually slow periods and two dispatchers during the usually busier times, Halverson said.
With the consolidation, the dispatch center will have three dispatchers at all times and may have four or five to address emergency calls for law enforcement, fire or emergency medical services.