Chaffee may consolidate 911 call services with Scott County

Friday, November 20, 2009

BENTON, Mo. -- A Scott County town is taking steps to consolidate its emergency dispatching services with the county.

On Thursday, Chaffee City Council members Jack Simpson and Darlene Crocker met with the county commission to discuss the possibility of the county taking over its emergency services dispatching. The county already does the 911 dispatching.

"I don't know what it would take and I haven't looked into it a lot, but we just wanted to see if the county would consider it," said Simpson. He said with technology that makes dispatching instantaneous, it seems that it would be more efficient to combine the services.

The city of Chaffee currently employs three dispatchers and is in the process of hiring a fourth. The move to combine services would also save it money.

"To me, we need to run the city like a business and we can't keep losing money," said Crocker.

Scott County Sheriff Rick Walter said combining services would be possible. Two new hires would be needed to handle the extra workload, which the city would likely pay for. Chaffee would also possibly decrease its telephone bills by eliminating unnecessary phone lines.

"The county would be better off and so would the city. I think it would be a win-win for both of us," said Simpson.

"I think this is the right step forward," said Commissioner Donnie Kiefer. "Sooner or later, the state will require consolidation and we've been looking at moving that way anyway."

Walter did point out one possible downside -- if Chaffee's dispatchers currently serve any roles in its jail, such as keeping track of and feeding inmates, duties would need to be shifted.

"I think that could be worked around," said Simpson. "If the dispatchers are doing that now, then the officers could do it."

Presiding Commissioner Jamie Burger also expressed enthusiasm about the possible merger.

"We welcome it and we can work out the details without a doubt," he said. "I think it's a wise move on you guys' part and I think it would be advantageous for us."

If the Chaffee dispatch is shut down, the only cities doing their own dispatching in the county will be Miner, Sikeston and Scott City.

Burger also noted the county is committed to keep its equipment and training up-to-date. "We're going to put more money in our training budget than ever next year," he said.

With the more advanced equipment in Benton, dispatching could be done more quickly -- and those seconds can matter in some emergency situations, noted Burger.

The commissioners and sheriff offered to speak with the Chaffee City Council if needed to explain any details. Simpson said he and Crocker would talk to the mayor and other council members and pursue the merger.

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