Council President Stuckart reviewed the Mayor’s letter to Council and comments to the press regarding the veto of the Spokane Police Department and Spokane Fire Department Dispatch Requirements Ordinance. The Council voted to override the veto 6-0 (CM Kinnear was absent because she is sick).
11/20/2018 Update: On the night of the first posting of this story (November 7th) Spokane News received emails from Kirstin Davis who advised us she is the Public Relations person for SREC (KDAVIS@spokanecounty.org) and stated she would send us the information we were seeking regarding the Integration. We would like to point out that after several emails, we at Spokane News have not received any information that K. Davis has stated they would send.
According to the Mayor: “The integrated system will improve public safety outcomes for our citizens and save money for other important priorities.” However, no information on how this will happen and what the “other important priorities” are being released to the public. ~Jay
Spokane News has received many emails from Dispatchers and Law Enforcement seeking our help in sharing their view against the SREC previously known as SPOCOM integration. As many followers of Spokane News listen to scanner feeds you may have heard the voice of dispatchers and now you can read some of their views below. Reaching out to your local Officials with your view of this merger is requested.
“I believe it is an all-too familiar tale of a grab for money. The newly formed PDA arose out of a struggle to cut costs, but the new leaders have not produced any hard numbers about what they’re trying to fix. Response times are already excellent. Current dispatchers do a superior job at protecting their officers, firefighters and the public because they have specialized training. Consultants have been hired to help make a case for what is essentially a political agenda.
As a fire dispatcher, the recent move to an integrated (“Spocom”) 911 center for cost savings, efficiency and shortened response times are faulty promises, for the following reasons:
1. We’re already integrated. 911 call receivers, and police, fire and sheriff radio dispatchers all work together and already share technological transparency. We talk to each other all day long, and can see active calls on one another’s computer screens.
2. Spocom leaders have already acknowledged that this won’t save any money. In addition, when questioned repeatedly by City Council and dispatchers, they have not produced a funding model and have stated they do not yet have one.
3. We’re highly specialized to provide the best outcome possible to citizens and emergency responders. Call receivers have their specialties – determining the type of emergency, triaging, identifying safety and legal issues, etc. Law enforcement radio dispatchers carefully manage scarce resources to assign officers to the highest acuity calls of the moment – it’s a skilled and intellectual balancing act. Fire/medical dispatchers fine tune the emergency response, listen for red flags and priority medical symptoms, and dispatch paramedics and fire trucks accordingly. Each of our agencies has won multiple awards for excellence and clear thinking in times of chaos and tragedy.
4. Emergency response times shorten when we hire more law enforcement officers and firefighters, not combine job descriptions.
5. Officers and deputies will be put at risk when their radio dispatchers are forced to divide their time between answering radio transmissions and taking phone calls.
6. The public’s safety will be threatened if 911 call receivers have to also answer radio traffic. It’s a dangerous mix.
Kelly Masjoan, Spokane Fire Department Dispatcher”
“I am a Spokane Police Officer and I am adamantly against the consolidation of Spokane City and County Dispatch Centers. I’ve been in law enforcement for 30 years. It’s been my experience that making units or agencies large causes major issues. Things become overlooked and service becomes substandard.
Smaller units or agencies have better communication and are able to react and correct issues more efficiently. The City and County have different needs and issues in their community. The Spokane Police and Sheriff’s Departments have different standard operating procedures as well as policy and procedures. Officers and Deputies rely on skilled and trained dispatchers to know and understand how to make sure they get resources and information in a timely manner to keep them and the public safe on the street.
Based on my experience consolidation will not save money and will more than likely cost more in the long run. Dispatchers can’t improve response times, only more officers on the street can do that.”
Officer David Daddato, Spokane Police Department
“This is in response to the highly political and very controversial 911 emergency center integration into a private entity called SPOCOM. Most have not heard about the decisions being made behind closed doors that will not only affect the citizens of Spokane County including the Cities within, as well as the employees that work for the agencies involved.
As an EMT Fire Dispatcher for 20 years, I am very passionate about what I do. I care about the citizens. I have pride in my job. I believe I make a difference. Not only have I dedicated my career to this very specialized position in the community, so has my Son, a Paramedic Firefighter for the Spokane City Fire Department for 3 years as has his Father, a Paramedic Firefighter for Spokane County Fire District 9 for 35 years.
I am NOT in favor of this integration proposed by the SPOCOM board. It is NOT in the best interest of the citizens, the employees or for the safety of the firefighters and police officers. Please take the time to learn about this proposed change to our 911 emergency dispatch center. It WILL affect you in one way or another.”
Tonya Peone, EMT Fire Dispatcher, 20 years of service
“A change in how emergency communications are handled in Spokane County is being proposed. It represents a step down in comparison to the services we currently provide. Money approved by taxpayers for supporting and improving the system already in place is being used to pay consultants, travel for board members, recruiting/hiring Administrators and forming a new public Agency.
I am a fire dispatcher working in the current communications center. My coworkers and I have extensive training to assist the public with EMS and Fire Emergencies. Currently fire dispatchers are certified as EMT’s and are Emergency Medical Dispatchers. We can provide emergency patient care over the phone while you are waiting for first responders to arrive. This change means that you will no longer have someone medically trained taking your calls. Medical emergency calls will be taken by call takers reading from a script. No adapting or deviating. Fire and non-medical calls will be handled the same scripted way.
As a citizen, I feel that these changes are not in the best interest of public safety. I want the best services for my family, friends and neighbors. Contact your public officials and let them know how you feel about this.”
Grace Hammersley, Spokane Fire Department Dispatcher
“I am not in favor for consolidation. As a taxpayer, this is a waste of money spent by people in charge of using taxpayer money. They said they are wanting to fix a broken system, but have failed to identify what is broken? They have hired a director for this new agency and that director stated last week to the board that it will cost more money than originally thought. The levels of service we dispatchers provide to officers/deputies/fire fighters will definitely change due to the fact that a private agency will not want to have any liability. They are using Proposition 1 money to pay for consolidating. That money was sold to the taxpayers for updating CAD (computer aided dispatch), radio system (allows all agencies to talk on same channel), crime check, alert Spokane, enhance 911 system. It did not say that the money would be put to combing agencies, which is what is being done. The City of Spokane city council is not in favor of this and have passed a resolution to stop involvement. As an employee… the board of directors and director cannot answer and refuse to answer questions about our pay, retirement, benefits, differed compensation packages. They have only said it would be competitive. But our question is…competitive to whom? The City of Spokane makes significantly more than any other agency.”
Kyle Steinmetz Spokane Police Department Dispatcher
Below is information in favor of SPOCOM with the complete link shared at the bottom of this story.
A complex, extensive project to regionalize Spokane County emergency communications by creating an Integrated Communications Center is currently underway. The new Integrated Communications Center will eventually replace the current Combined Communications Center (CCC), providing faster, more efficient responses to emergencies. (1)
This is a complicated effort and historically, attempts to regionalize have failed. However, a favorable political climate, coupled with emergency response leadership’s desire for a more effective and efficient system has contributed to the project moving forward. Spokane County Fire and Law Enforcement leaders have agreed to the concept, and are working with City of Spokane and County officials on the early phases of the project. (1)
Currently, incoming 911 calls to the CCC are transferred via phone to either fire or police for dispatch purposes. The future Integrated Communications Center would handle all emergency calls immediately, by integrating computer aided dispatch systems and personnel thus eliminating the need for call transfers and re-triaging which should result in the reduction of total response times for citizens of Spokane County. (1)
Emails to voice your view.
Spokane Mayor: email@example.com
Spokane County Sheriff: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spokane Valley Fire Chief: email@example.com
Spokane Valley Mayor: firstname.lastname@example.org,
Mary Kuney: email@example.com
Josh Kerns: firstname.lastname@example.org
Al French: email@example.com
Spokane Valley Fire Department:
Spokane County Fire Department District 9:
Spokane County Fire District 4
Chief Randy Johnson, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Assistant Chief Bill Neckels email: email@example.com
Division Chiefs Howard Johnson III email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bob Bender email: email@example.com
Gino Palomino email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Spokane County Fire District 8
Commissioner Position 1: Andrew V. Rorie email@example.com
Commissioner Position 2: Lee C. Boling firstname.lastname@example.org
Commissioner Position 3: Gregory A. Hesse email@example.com
FIRE CHIEF: Tony Nielsen firstname.lastname@example.org
Spokane County Fire District 3