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9-1-1 dispatch consolidation talks kick off in Kalamazoo

The unusual joint meeting was held in the big auditorium at the Fetzer Center.
The unusual joint meeting was held in the big auditorium at the Fetzer Center.

KALAMAZOO (WKZO) -- It was a who’s who of local politics last night as local elected officials from the City of Kalamazoo, the County, The Township, Portage and WMU gathered to hear a battle plan for consolidating 9-1-1 dispatch.

Senior Consultant Shawn Walker says the fact that the County, Township and city are already under one roof gives the effort a big headstart.

Finance consultant Sheri Griffith Powell says soon every community may be required to go to the Next Generation of 9-1-1 that uses digital technology and that may be more than local units can afford on their own.

Fire Chief Mark Barnes says right now dispatch to 9 out-county fire departments is handled by 2 County Dispatchers and its failing to meet even the lowest requirements for fire certification.

Kalamazoo Township Police Chief Tim Bergoise says Kalamazoo is a leader in law enforcement in many ways, but in dispatch, it’s a disaster waiting to happen, and its time to upgrade.

Last night was just the first step of many. A committee will take the consultants report and attempt to come up with a governance plan and refine cost estimates.

County Administrator Peter Battani says there still is alot of work ahead but they cannot fail this time.  There is too much at stake. 

No one has committed to anything at this point except more discussion.