Po­lice chief re­quests new dis­patcher po­si­tion

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NORTHWEST ARKANSAS - DOUG THOMP­SON

SPRING­DALE — The only new po­si­tion be­ing con­sid­ered in Spring­dale’s bud­get for next year would go to the city’s emer­gency dis­patch cen­ter to ful­fill added state re­quire­ments, a City Coun­cil bud­get dis­cus­sion con­firmed Mon­day.

Po­lice Chief Mike Peters made the re­quest with Fire Chief Mike Ir­win sup­port­ing the re­quest at Mon­day night’s meet­ing in city hall. Mayor Doug Sprouse also sup­ported the re­quest.

“Th­ese state re­quire­ments on dis­patch cen­ters are com­ing be­cause the state wants smaller cen­ters to con­sol­i­date,” Peters told the coun­cil. “They have added so many re­port­ing re­quire­ments and record keep­ing that our day shift su­per­vi­sor has to be out of the room, tak­ing care of ad­min­is­tra­tion.” The po­si­tion re­quested would be a train­ing co­or­di­na­tor and dis­patch su­per­vi­sor who could pro­vide di­rect su­per­vi­sion of staff while the di­rec­tor takes care of ad­min­is­tra­tion, he said.

State leg­is­la­tors were clear in the last leg­isla­tive ses­sion that too many of the smaller ju­ris­dic­tions around the state have their own dis­patch cen­ters with­out enough train­ing or de­tailed records, Peters said. The in­creased re­quire­ments, how­ever, af­fect larger cen­ters also, he said.

The state didn’t of­fer any ex­tra money af­ter im­pos­ing ad­di­tional re­quire­ments, coun­cil mem­ber Mike Over­ton noted dur­ing the dis­cus­sion.

Ir­win told the coun­cil im­prove­ment to Spring­dale’s dis­patch cen­ter was a ma­jor fac­tor in the city’s fire in­sur­ance rat­ing im­prov­ing to a class 1, the high­est rat­ing pos­si­ble. That change was an­nounced last week. The cen­ter dis­patches the Po­lice and Fire de­part­ments, emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vice and city an­i­mal con­trol.

In all, the new hire would cost the city $60,000 a year, Peters said, but that wouldn’t all go to that one po­si­tion. He said af­ter the bud­get meet­ing a to­tal of six po­si­tions would have their job du­ties changed, re­quir­ing some ad­just­ments in pay.

In other mat­ters dis­cussed Mon­day, Ir­win re­quested $58,750 for 50 sets of bul­let proof vests and hel­mets. This gear would al­low fire­fight­ers to reach vic­tims in a mass shoot­ing sit­u­a­tion that isn’t re­solved yet with a lesser de­gree of risk.

“It’s a sad day when I’m ask­ing you for bul­let-proof vests and bul­let-proof hel­mets for our peo­ple,” Ir­win said. The city’s bud­get will re­quire coun­cil ap­proval at a reg­u­lar meet­ing later this year.

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