Tuesday night's decision by the Leon County Commission adopted a six member oversight board, made up of the four heads of emergency response: the Fire Chief, EMS Chief, the Sheriff and Police Chief. The City Manager and the County Administrator will also serve on that board.
This decision gets the dispatch consolidation rolling and once in place, critical seconds could be saved in an emergency.
The adoption of an oversight board for Leon County and Tallahassee’s joint dispatch center was only one major step. The county also agreed to stand down on discussions of a law enforcement merger, one of its top priorities for 2006. However, the discussions are only laid to rest for now.
“If we don't have this thing up and running to the satisfaction to the majority of us, I'll make the motion in 180 days and it will invalidate that and we'll move forward again,” says at-large Leon County Commissioner Ed DePuy.
Tallahassee police have opposed a law enforcement merger and say standing back was the right decision.
“Consolidation is not the way to go, there's ways that will cooperation we can save the citizens a lot of money,” comments Deputy Chief John Proctor.
However, Sheriff Larry Campbell is standing by his belief that a law enforcement merger is necessary.
"We've made some progress, but we haven't made as much as I think we need to in the long run for the best interest of our citizens,” Sheriff Campbell adds.
The six member oversight board will now take on the task to find a public safety communications director to head up the new dispatch center, once that happens, a dispatch consolidation plan can get moving.
“I think the whole community can celebrate now, I was afraid to declare it was time to celebrate until we got this action from the county, but this kind of seams it up,” says Leon County Commissioner Debbie Lightsey.
It was a city/county hired consultant that recommended a single, independent dispatch center for fire and EMS last month. However, the Leon County Commission decided to throw law enforcement dispatch into the mix. Both governments agreed.