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IPD wants dispatchers to stay put

A $100,000 city budget shortfall and the future of the Ironton Police Department’s dispatch topped discussions during city council’s Finance Committee meeting Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 10, 2001

A $100,000 city budget shortfall and the future of the Ironton Police Department’s dispatch topped discussions during city council’s Finance Committee meeting Wednesday.

Police dispatchers presented the committee with stacks of documentation that misinformed 911 calls occur nationwide and that Lawrence County 911 picking up their day-to-day tasks would pose a problem.

For more than 1 1/2 hours, three dispatchers and two police officers defended the importance of a city-run dispatch, alleging citizens of Ironton would not receive the same service they currently provide and that the lives of the officers would be at risk.

Finance Committee members are taking a second look at the city’s 2001 operating budget after council decided to add money back into the police department temporarily to keep the dispatch.

Their mission? To determine where additional cuts need to be made to ensure the city doesn’t fall short the amount of money that was added back into the budget.

IPD Capt. Bill Garland presented the committee with a letter from police chief Rodney McFarland addressing the effects that losing the police dispatch would have on the department.

"The chief sent me as his representative because my opinions on the matter are apparently his opinions," Garland told the committee. "I guarantee it will not save money to cut the dispatch."

He detailed the many tasks currently performed by police dispatchers – ranging from completing paperwork to be filed in courts to ensuring proper authorities are called out on dog complaints and water breaks.

"What happens when you pull officers off the streets to do this?," he asked the committee. "(County 911 director) Don Mootz said 911 will not handle the non-emergency calls, so who will?"

Police dispatchers recorded over 13,000 "phone calls that were not considered significant enough to be logged" last year, he said.