Columbiana police union against ending local dispatch services
The Columbiana City police union is speaking out about dispatch services possibly no longer being local and instead being conducted by dispatch workers in Columbiana County. Police officers stood behind the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association Attorney
Tuesday, October 3rd 2023, 11:29 PM EDT
The Columbiana City police union is speaking out about dispatch services possibly no longer being local and instead being conducted by dispatch workers in Columbiana County.
Police officers stood behind the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association Attorney who is speaking for them.
The law enforcement officers are upset that at the prior meeting city council voted to have the City Manager move forward with
negotiations to possibly end city dispatching services and contract with the Columbiana County Sheriff's Office which already
provides those services for several departments.
"That's radio traffic for eight different police departments, so in what order is that radio traffic going to be answered? Are they going to be third in line now when they were previously number one? Can other calls being answered first mean life or death for them, whether they get back up, whether they have all the facts about a suspect they're about to go talk to? They have serious concerns and no one has even asked them what those concerns are," OAPB Attorney Danielle Chaffin said.
"I know the general move in the state is centralization but police officers I talk with where dispatch centers were moved, they oppose it, and most want their local dispatch centers with local workers back," Attorney Chaffin added.
She explained that officers have no way to communicate with law enforcement officers from other departments who use different radio systems and don't believe the change will work.
She also claims there doesn't have to be a critical shortage of emergency dispatch workers who are able to do the job in Columbiana, but says no one is hiring new applicants who want to be hired for that job.
The city says if it is going to join services with the County there is no need to hire more workers. The city council is hopeful the two dispatch workers who are currently employed can get a job with Columbiana County in their dispatch center.
But Columbiana County says the dispatch centers will be adequately staffed with trained workers and points out other municipalities have seamlessly joined with no loss of service.
"All our dispatchers are really emergency medical dispatchers, they go through 40 hours of training and through recurring training so they are all up to the task of giving the folks in Columbiana what they deserve, Columbiana County Commissioner Tim Weigle said.
"We are more than willing to work with them, work with their standard operating procedures, work with the 911 things we have put together.
My personal guarantee will be I will work as hard as I can to make sure they will get the same services they've been getting if not better," Commissioner Weigle added.
"We know the radio part of it will be a problem, but we have figured out how to do that once we do that through legal council and Ohio revised codes we would be able to do that," Weigle emphasized.
The police officers union wants the city leaders to repeal the ordinance, and reconsider staying with local service, but city leaders are continuing negotiations and have brought on department heads to discuss concerns.
Many of the things they brought up we are working on. We are having our safety directors meet with them this week to see if we can make this work. Service is a major concern for our residents, and the safety of our residents and officers and we are looking into all of that to see if we can figure out a solution," Columbiana City Manager Lance Willard said.
"Each different safety force whether fire, or EMS, or police is going to have their own concerns, and we are taking those concerns to make sure we feel comfortable before moving forward," City Manager Lance Willard emphasized.