Facts must drive tough decisionsPublished 9:32am Tuesday, February 5, 2013
The tough decisions about the staffing levels at the 911 call center that are likely to come soon need to be based on hard data and actual analysis rather than emotions, gut feelings and the desire for things to stay the same.
Although the Lawrence County Commissioners helped resolve Sheriff Jeff Lawless’ immediate budget needs with additional funding last month, the reality is the sheriff will likely need to trim expenses at the jail, in his office’s operations and at the 911 center. This will almost certainly require sacrifices and concessions by all involved.
The sheriff should question every component and every expense associated with these departments.
A number of the fire departments in the county are already expressing concern that the possible elimination of one part-time dispatcher per shift could negatively impact 911’s ability. They may be right, but everyone involved needs to base their decisions on facts.
It shouldn’t be difficult for the sheriff to analyze call logs from 911 to determine exactly how often more than three dispatchers are needed. Another option is to simply implement this change in non-peak hours as a test and slowly implement as the call volume allows.
The same process should apply to determining whether or not the center needs its own director or if those duties could be handled by the management system in place at the sheriff’s office
None of these are ideal scenarios, but neither is the county’s financial situation.
The smart way to move forward is to make sure all changes are based on a strong foundation of statistical data that can be used to overcome personal agendas, understandable emotions and human nature’s general reluctance to change.