By JESSIE HORTON
DUBLIN (January 13, 2016) — Despite the frigid temperature in the old Dublin gym Monday night, the Dublin City Council meeting heated up, and things haven’t cooled down yet. All over police dispatching service.
It began simply enough. Dublin Police Chief Michael Jennings reported he spoke to Erath County Sheriff Tommy Bryant about the possibility of the county taking over dispatch responsibilities for the PD, FD and EMS. The city council and Jennings had previously discussed dispatching options, with paying the county to take over being the decided best choice.
However, Jennings said the county refused. He reported to the council the sheriff told him it wasn’t possible at this time and that he had begun researching alternatives. Jennings said he hired Rachel Decker who was really getting the dispatch department of the PD in shape.
He also reported that once back in the police department (the PD has been operating out of a mobile building on city property while storm damage is repaired at Dublin City Hall and PD), the department will move forward. But, Jennings said he was also speaking with officials at the Stephenville Police Department about the possibility of sharing dispatch service with them. He advised the council he would keep the informed on the progress.
This wasn’t quite enough to calm one council member who had plenty to say Tuesday.
“As you heard, the sheriff refused to take our dispatch. With our payments for this service, this would come directly off his dispatch budget,” Dublin councilmen Jimmy Leatherwood said in a text message to The Flash. “Also, this would streamline response for our Ambulance and Fire Departments that service the southern part of the county. We appreciate the patrol help that he gave while we were understaffed, but I feel like the 3,880 residents of Erath County that reside within our city limits are citizens that deserve more. This a weird position for an election year with a contested primary.”
According to Sheriff Bryant, the city of Dublin’s police department did approach him with an offer to pay for ECSO to provide dispatch service for the Dublin PD, EMS and Fire Department. However, Bryant said there were several issues including cost verses what the city offered and the fact that he can’t hire anymore dispatchers or give them a raise even if they took on the extra work.
“I looked into it and did the research because I want to do everything I can to help Dublin,” Bryant said Wednesday afternoon. “I couldn’t see a way to make it work for both departments at this time. That’s not to say I won’t or haven’t been doing everything possible the ECSO can do for the city of Dublin. I’m not even closing the book on this. I’m just saying I can’t do it right now. It just isn’t economically feasible at this point.”
With that in mind, Dublin city officials say they are moving forward with the dispatchers they have now, under the direction of Decker, and keeping an open mind to future mergers with other departments on dispatch services in order to better serve the citizens of the city and the county and to keep response times short.