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Lake Orion chooses Oxford for dispatch



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September 04, 2013 - By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer

The Lake Orion Village Council has decided to keep dispatching services local, opting to use Oxford Village.

The council authorized the administration to take all necessary actions to transfer dispatching services up to Oxford.

"I can only assume that our residents would prefer to have local dispatchers or even Oxford personnel that are more familiar with our community handling dispatching than people who are not, and that's a big consideration for us in addition to the price  and we get that with Oxford," Village Manager Darwin McClary said.

In four months all 911 emergency calls will be dispatched from Oxford starting January 1, 2014, for an annual cost of $20,000 with a two percent increase over the three-year contract.

The Oakland County Sheriff's Department also offered a proposal and undersheriff Mike McCabe said the OCSD could provide a better service for $21,632 the first year and included a promise to hire two Lake Orion dispatchers, something that Oxford would not do.

The Oxford council also met and approved the agreement Tuesday, August 27.

"So we are all set," McClary said. "They are moving forward with purchasing some new equipment for the dispatching center, and are using grants and other monies to purchase that."

They are not guaranteed to hire any LO dispatchers. It was proposed to Oxford Council when talks of contracting first started early August but they rejected it.

Lake Orion will be able to retain one of their full time dispatchers who will replace the current police clerk. Duties will include handling the Law Enforcement Information Network responsibilities, including running plates and checking warrants, in the Lake Orion office.  

"So of course there are still discussions we need to have with the union to work all the personnel issues out. So I want to make that caveat that what we are doing is still subject to conciliation and the cooperation of our union," McClary said.

Oxford will serve as the new PSAP, the Public Safety Answering Point, in accordance with the Oakland County E911 system.

They will be dispatching LO police, handling LO emergency calls including handling water and sewer complaints, and answering fire calls within the village boundaries of Lake Orion and transferring those 911 calls to Oakland County.

In using Oxford, Lake Orion is building in an automatic delay time for calls coming from the Village.

The built in delay will occur when Oxford police have to transfer LO 911 fire and medical emergency calls to Oakland County in order to dispatch the Orion Township fire department.

The Oakland County's Sheriff's Department is currently handling all emergency calls going to Orion Township and offered to handle Lake Orion's too.

 "I believe we can offer the Village a first class service which includes certified Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) and Emergency Police Dispatch (EPD), McCabe wrote in an e-mail to the village. "We will be providing Emergency Fire Dispatch (EFD) for Orion Twp. Fire Department starting on January 1. We are the only agency in Michigan that will be using all three protocols; EFD, EMD and EPD. All are computer based protocols and we will be one of only nine in the United States using the new EPD system. Based on your current police FTE's the cost to the Village of Lake Orion would be $21,632 the first year (pro-rated), $22,064 in 2014 and $23,260 in 2015.  These rates are set by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.  "We also would be in a position to hire your two full time dispatchers in our center if you are looking to find them full time employment," McCabe wrote.

McCabe also told the village officials about the delays that would take place by using Oxford.

  "You will be building in an automatic delay to your fire calls and medical emergency calls in the Village," said McCabe in his e-mail. "Since your 911 calls will be going to the Village of Oxford the delay will occur when Oxford PD will have to call transfer Village of Lake Orion 911 calls to OCSO in order to dispatch the Orion Township Fire Department.  You also will be delaying Emergency Medical Dispatch protocols by doing this."

McClary didn't see the delay as a problem.

  "Had we kept our own local dispatch, the 911 calls would have come into Lake Orion dispatch and we still would have had to transfer them to Oakland County anyway. So it's not really different than what we would have done," McClary said.

"There is one additional step because we are not directly dispatching fire services," he explained.

McClary said there are added benefits in working with Oxford over other communities.

Oxford personnel are familiar with Lake Orion streets after serving as each other's back up for a number of years, have collaborated with LO on other projects, and Oxford services are cheaper.

LO did not request any formal proposals from other agencies because they voted to use Oxford first if negotiations panned out.

Oakland County's offer had a first year cost of $21,693 for using certified Emergency Medical Dispatch, Emergency Police Dispatch, and Emergency Fire Dispatch.

Oakland County also has the ability to hire two full-time LO dispatchers, McCabe said.

"I appreciate the general proposal that the OCSD has provided to us. It was very promising, and I did provide a copy of that email to our council members the night of the meeting," McClary said.

"They did consider that email in making our decision, and at this time because Oxford is an option for us. We believe that for other reasons it's the best fit for us."

In June, Orion Township opted to use Oakland County as its dispatch center for fire service. Lake Orion had been doing fire dispatch previously.

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