Adams needs own 911 dispatcher
To the editor:
This letter is in regards to the proposed 911 regionalization being discussed for the town of Adams. The purpose is to better inform the residents of Adams as well as those administrators responsible for making the final decision. It is not a scare tactic as has been posted on social media sites, only an attempt to separate fact from fiction.
I have been a full-time public safety dispatcher for Adams for 18 years as well a part-time dispatcher for the city of Pittsfield for 8 years. I use the title, public safety dispatcher because 911 services are just a small portion of what we provide as dispatchers. On any given day in Adams my duties may include the answering of emergency and business calls on both 911 and administrative lines, as well as providing services to those who walk into our department.
We are responsible for dispatching the appropriate agencies, which include police, fire, EMS, forest wardens, animal control, and occasionally the town department of public works and water department, as well as logging each call into our records. We monitor all radio transmissions to ensure the safety of those agencies handling their respective calls as well as any additional requests that may come from them. We supply a number of administrative support tasks for the officers including criminal background checks, license and registration checks, cross agency checks, as well as enter stolen vehicle and missing persons reports. These are all facets of our job, and yes, some could be performed by another dispatching agency.
Now for the fiction portion of this whole process. The proposal calls for the elimination of dispatching services in Adams and those services to now be provided by the Berkshire County Sheriffs' Department. What is not being said is that only the town's 911 calls, which for clarification purposes are all currently handled by our department regardless of whether they are wireless or landline, will be handled by the sheriffs, with the remaining calls/walk-ins handled by a desk officer at a higher pay rate, which is a duplication of services that will add more cost to this proposal.
Just the cost of utilizing a reserve/part-time police officer at the desk 24/7 365 days a year will cost an annual average of $124,000 before including the $23,000 the town will pay in its contract to the sheriffs department. If my math is correct that's approximately $34,000 less then what the town currently pays its dispatchers annually. Add in the cost of overtime and the town will be paying more then what is currently allocated.
The final point I would like to make is one of safety, which I believe is the most important one in all of this discussion. Town leaders need to be more creative then just eliminating a line item from public safety and not realize they are doing their community an injustice and/or think they have done something that is more beneficial for their town. I encourage all Adams residents to contact the Board of Selectmen and town administrator and voice your support for keeping 911 services in the town of Adams.