After Oxford switched dispatch services, Lake Orion must follow suit

By Brian Marshall
Review Staff Writer
Lake Orion Police Chief Jerry Narsh isn’t sure how a major change in the way dispatch is handled will affect his department.
In a recent special meeting, Oxford decided to transfer police dispatch services to the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, effectively shutting down the village police dispatch center July 1, 2017 “or sooner.”
Lake Orion has been using Oxford’s dispatch center, so it too will have to come up with a new option for dispatch service.
“My village manager is out of town. I haven’t received anything in writing,” Narsh said. “Our contract expires in June of 2017. We’ll have to see what our time is. Either way, we’ll look ahead.”
Lake Orion Village Manager Darwin McClary was on vacation and not available for comment last week.
Lake Orion has been paying $30,000 to Oxford for dispatch.
“After I meet with the village manager and the Oxford staff up there, I’m sure things will be pretty clear and we’ll go from there,” Narsh said.
The Sheriff’s Office told the village it could provide police dispatch services for $23,246 from July 1 through March 31, 2017 and $31,115 from April 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018.
That is a far cry from the $338,300 dispatch budget village officials recently approved for the 2016-17 fiscal year, which begins July 1. Of that amount, $300,000 is coming from the village’s general fund budget, which is directly supported by taxpayers and the remaining $8,500 consists of reimbursements and training funds from the state.
For Oxford, the decision was motivated by a desire to save money for the cash-strapped municipality. There was no dissatisfaction expressed by officials regarding the way the local center operates or its personnel.
“I think it’s important to keep in mind that while there is the belief that this is an easy decision, that’s not the case,” said Councilman Erik Dolan, an officer with the Oak Park Public Safety Department since 1996.
After going over all the figures supplied by village Manager Joe Young, it was determined, under a contract with county, the village would save approximately $200,000 annually beginning in the second year.
Coates noted Oxford is still eligible to receive $50,000 from CLEMIS because of its decision to contract with the sheriff’s dispatch. CLEMIS has been offering a $50,000 incentive to any community that closes its 9-1-1 center and contracts with another agency, be it county or anyone else. How this money is spent is entirely up to the community to decide.
It is estimated the transition process to switch from local to county dispatch should take about four to six months. There are issues that must be dealt with such as terminating the contract with Lake Orion, handling labor contract issues and disposing of the dispatch center’s equipment.
CJ Carnacchio contributed to this story.