Lake Twp. Police Chief Mark Hummer, left, and Wendy Walters, a fire and police dispatcher for Lake Township, speak while working at radio dispatch.
The plan to establish a regional dispatching service for certain communities in northern Wood County has received a boost with the awarding of a state grant.
Lake Township will be receiving an $87,840 grant from the Ohio Department of Development to study and come up with a recommendation for the dispatch center, said Mark Hummer, the township's police chief and administrator.
The grant will be used to hire RCC Consultants Inc., a telecommunications engineering and consulting firm, to assess needs and the best way to establish the dispatch center, which would serve Lake Township, Northwood, Rossford, Walbridge, and Millbury, Chief Hummer said.
"We know that we all need to do more with less, but we want to be able to build a state-of-the-art regional dispatch center that's expandable and will provide a higher level of service and greater interoperability between the agencies," the chief explained.
Lake Township's dispatch office is now on Lemoyne Road in a building that formerly was the Walbridge Post of the Ohio Highway Patrol. The dispatching itself is handled by a private service hired by the township.
The township also dispatches for Rossford, Walbridge, and Millbury under contract. Northwood has its own dispatch office on Wales Road.
Rossford Administrator Ed Ciecka said his city is a partner in the joint dispatch center project. He said the consultant's study would be more than a feasibility study.
"We see it as a mechanism to enable us to go forward with the project," he said. "It will accomplish some of the back-room work that has to be done to put this together. What we've found is, we've been inching along with discussions, and we've come to an understanding of where we'd like to go, but we're all pressed with other duties."
He noted that police and fire chiefs generally prefer to have their own dispatchers if possible, but the savings involved in contracting or participating in a joint service were not to be ignored.
"Cost is one advantage," Mr. Ciecka said. "But we hope to provide a higher level of service."
Tom Cairl, Northwood's police chief/administrator, said the consultant will study call volumes and "see how we should be doing things. Are there better and more efficient ways?"
Chief Hummer said regional cooperation is a growing trend.
"This is where law enforcement and local government are going in the future for a variety of things," he said, pointing out that northern Wood County communities have been adopting Lucas County's radio system to improve communications and that a regional police SWAT team trains at Owens Community College in Perrysburg Township.
"This regionalism is not a passing fad," he explained.