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Consolidated dispatch is best, Bergen County Police Chief says

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot

A CHIEF RESPONDS: In response to “ The downside of bringing Bergen 911 services under one roof ,” published on CLIFFVIEW PILOT on Feb. 28, the author wrote that consolidating dispatch services would not be beneficial in Fair Lawn. I respectfully disagree.

Bergen County Police Chief Brian Higgins, Public Safety Center

I must begin by saying that the men and women of the Fair Lawn Police Department and their dispatch are professionals.

They provide a very valuable service to the residents of Fair Lawn.

But I respectfully disagree with the reasoning for Fair Lawn not to use the Bergen County Public Safety Center (PSOC).

The dispatchers of the Bergen County PSOC handled almost 300,000 911 and administrative calls for service in 2011. As a matter of fact, during the snow storm of October 2011, the PSOC handled 2,200 calls in a ten hour period.

The Bergen County PSOC provides primary dispatch services to all county facilities and eleven towns and 911 primary public answering services to 21 municipalities with a combined population in excess of 200,000 residents.

When a 911 call for a medical emergency is received in the Bergen County PSOC, pre-arrival instructions are provided “in-house.” Those types of calls are not handled by Fair Lawn Dispatch but are forwarded out of Fair Lawn to another location. By those calls remaining in the BC PSOC, any additional information received to update responding units would be immediately available.

With today’s technology, when a 911 call is received in the PSOC, the address, including the “dash” is displayed on a screen at each console. In addition, our in-house mapping program is able to locate the caller.

The writer indicates that robberies, burglaries, assaults and car thefts have increased and that having a local dispatcher would benefit the residents of Fair Lawn by saving time ( SEE: The downside of bringing Bergen 911 services under one roof ).

Fair Lawn, like many towns in New Jersey, was forced to lay off police officers due to budgetary issues. The money saved by Fair Lawn contracting with the BC PSOC for dispatch services may have saved the jobs of some, if not all, of those police officers. I believe those officers might have a greater and more direct impact on those crimes.

Our armed services are able to conduct military operations, even remote control of drones and weapons systems with precision from thousands of miles away; I know that the Bergen County PSOC can provide excellent dispatch services from Mahwah to Fair Lawn.

The concept of countywide dispatch Shared Services and Consolidation is not new to public safety. It is being performed across the US as well as in several counties here in New Jersey. The Bergen County mentality of “home rule” seems to be delaying Bergen County from moving forward and catching up with technology.

We are committed to providing the best services to the residents of Bergen County in the most cost effective manner.

Instead of addressing this issue from a negative point of view and starting out the answer with “It can’t work here,” I invite all those involved to work together with us to make this state-of-the-art facililty the best it can be to best serve our residents.

Brian Higgins

Bergen County Police Chief
Acting Director of Public Safety

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