To the editor:
In response to the letter to the editor in the Fair Lawn Patch dated Thursday, March 01, 2012 titled, "Consolidating Dispatch Is Wrong for Fair Lawn."
The authors wrote that consolidating dispatch services would not be beneficial in Fair Lawn. I must begin by saying that the men and women of the Fair Lawn Police Department and their dispatch are professionals. They provide a very valuable service to the residents of Fair Lawn, but I respectfully disagree with the points on which these two men base their reasoning for Fair Lawn not to use the Bergen County Public Safety Center (PSOC). The dispatchers of the Bergen County PSOC handled almost 300,000 911 and administrative calls for service in 2011. As a matter of fact, during the snow storm of October 2011, the PSOC handled 2,200 calls in a ten hour period. The Bergen County PSOC provides primary dispatch services to all county facilities and 11 towns and 911 primary public answering services to 21 municipalities with a combined population in excess of 200,000 residents.
When a 911 call for a medical emergency is received in the Bergen County PSOC pre-arrival instructions are provided “in-house”, or as the Record states “under one big roof”. Those types of calls are not handled by Fair Lawn Dispatch, but are forwarded out of Fair Lawn to another location. By those calls remaining in the BC PSOC, any additional information received to update responding units would be immediately available.
With today’s technology, when a 911 call is received in the PSOC, the address, including the “dash” is displayed on a screen at each console. In addition, our in-house mapping program is able to locate the caller.
The writers indicate that robberies, burglaries, assaults and car thefts have increased and that having a local dispatcher would benefit the residents of Fair Lawn by saving time. Fair Lawn, like many towns in New Jersey, was forced to lay off police officers due to budgetary issues. The money saved by Fair Lawn contracting with the BC PSOC for dispatch services may have saved the jobs of some, if not all, of those police officers. I believe those officers might have a greater and more direct impact on those crimes.
Our armed services are able to conduct military operations, even remote control of drones and weapons systems with precision from thousands of miles away; I know that the Bergen County PSOC can provide excellent dispatch services from Mahwah to Fair Lawn.
The concept of county-wide dispatch Shared Services and Consolidation is not new to public safety. It is being performed across the US as well as in several counties here in New Jersey. The Bergen County mentality of “home rule” seems to be delaying Bergen County from moving forward and catching up with technology.
We are committed to providing the best services to the residents of Bergen County in the most cost-effective manner. Instead of addressing this issue from a negative point of view and starting out the answer with “it can’t work here”, I invite the authors to work together with us to make this state-of-the-art facility the best it can be to best serve our residents.
Bergen County Police Chief
Acting Director of Public Safety