If the City Council gives its approval at its Aug. 12 meeting, the Hermiston emergency dispatch service will consolidate with Umatilla County’s dispatch service next year.
Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston, along with Pendleton Police Chief Stuart Roberts and Umatilla County Sheriff Terry Rowan, spent more than an hour Monday night explaining the benefits of dispatch consolidation during the council’s monthly work session.
According to Edmiston, those benefits include having all area law enforcement agencies using the same records management system, as well as saving the city money. The Pendleton Police Department began using the county’s dispatch system in 2002. Umatilla, Stanfield and Echo also use the county’s dispatch system.
If Hermiston’s dispatch center consolidated with Umatilla County’s, Edmiston said each law enforcement agency would be using the same central data sharing system that provides “good, clean information” for all to share. Edmiston also said consolidation could save the city around $350,000 in personnel and equipment costs.
Hermiston Fire Chief Pat Hart said consolidation will also streamline fire calls and eliminate potential confusion and delays. Currently, if a 9-1-1 call about a fire comes from a resident outside the city limits of Hermiston, the call goes to the county dispatch before being transferred back to Hermiston. If a call comes from inside the city limits, it goes to Hermiston. A call coming from a cell phone could go to either dispatch center, he said.
“Consolidation for us would be a wonderful thing,” Hart said. “We’re all for it. It’s really a no-brainer.”
The move, however, could mean the elimination of two dispatch positions in Hermiston. Hermiston currently has seven people employed at the dispatch center. Under consolidation, five of those would move over to the county dispatch center.
The move would also benefit the other law enforcement agencies because the county would begin using Hermiston’s computer-aided dispatch/records management system (CAD/RMS), which is considered superior to what the county is currently using. Hermiston’s CAD/RMS would allow each agency to have access to the same information.
“Sharing information is huge in law enforcement,” Roberts said. “I’m excited about getting a comprehensive integrated system that will allow us to share.”
Another potential drawback to consolidation is Hermiston would likely not have 24/7 walk-in service at the police station. Edmiston said there would likely be times during the course of a day when no one was available at the Hermiston station. In those cases, a phone would be available that would connect with the dispatch center in Pendleton.
The Hermiston City Council will consider Edmiston’s recommendation to consolidate at its Aug. 12 meeting.
Following the work session, the city council voted to annex 1.16 acres of property owned by Good Shepherd Medical Center. The hospital proposes to sell the property to Lifeways for the construction of a residential care and treatment facility. The property will have a multi-structure residential zoning designation.
The council also approved five-year telecommunications franchise agreements with Inland Development Corporation and Windwave Communications.