Two dispatch centers on the horizon

By: 
Alexis Barker, NLJ News Editor

Photo by Alexis Barker/NLJ

On April 11, during one of several dispatch meetings held over the last year, Newcastle Police Chief Sam Keller, Upton Police Chief Susan Bridge, and Weston County Sheriff Bryan Colvard sat together at the front of the room. During the meeting, deputy county attorney Jeani Stone presented the options that each of the involved entities would have to consider moving forward. 

 

Two dispatch centers — one run by the Sheriff’s office and another by the Newcastle Police Department — are on the horizon for Weston County.

The Board of Weston County Commissioners voted on May 2 in favor of a dispatch center operated by the Weston County sheriff. According to Deputy County Attorney Jeani Stone, the sheriff will operate the center, while interested agencies work toward a joint powers board. 

“The commission is hoping that the Town of Upton and City of Newcastle will join the joint powers board, with representation by all emergency providers,” Stone said in an email. 

As previously reported, tensions between Weston County and the city of Newcastle over dispatch services provided by the city have been increasing for some time. The disagreement has escalated over the past year. 

The commissioners, as
previously reported, have continually fought for the formation of a joint powers board to oversee dispatch services. Weston County Sheriff Bryan Colvard and Gilbert Nelson,
the county’s emergency

management coordinator, have also stated their support for a joint powers board. 

The city and Mayor Pam Gualtieri have opposed creation of a joint powers board, preferring instead to continue to operate the dispatch center and provide the service for other county entities. 

The county’s decision to operate its own dispatch center will cost nearly $800,000, according to estimates presented by Colvard and Nelson. As previously reported, the county set aside $672,000 from the federal coronavirus relief package to aid in setting up dispatch services. 

The board elected to move forward with the Motorola/Spillman system as its database and radio provider, instead of the CIS system utilized in the dispatch center operated by the Newcastle Police Department

“The commission believes that the Motorola/Spillman system will provide the most comprehensive data system to best serve the citizens of Weston County,” Stone said. “Weston County will be working with Crook County and sharing resources in the implementation of the Motorola/Spillman system.”

Colvard, according to Stone, is working on securing the necessary equipment and staff, as well as modifying the current dispatch space in the county’s law enforcement center, for the center’s anticipated fall 2022 opening. Estimates are that it will take six to eight months for the center to be operational.

The Newcastle Police Department, which has been formally evicted from the Weston County Law Enforcement Center as part of the ongoing escalation of the dispute between the two entities, has announced plans to move its dispatch and law enforcement operation into Newcastle City Hall.

The city of Newcastle spends over $500,000 annually on dispatch related costs. According to information provided by the city, between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021, they spent $552,231.47 on dispatch, $443,180.35 for employee related costs and $109,051.12 on other expenses including phone services and utilities. 

“The most efficient emergency services for Weston County citizens with representation by all emergency providers is the goal of the Weston County Commission,” Stone said.

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