North Port, Florida- North Port Police handles its own 911 emergency calls...more than 4,300 calls each year.
"It's beneficial having someone familiar with the area...that's a given," says Kevin Vespia, North Port Police Chief.
It's one benefit some in North Port don't want to give up if the city consolidates its 911 center with Sarasota County's new Emergency Operations Center opening next year.
"Two things you look at- savings versus control," Vespia says.
Vespia is researching options for city commissioners to consider, including the cost of technology to interface both systems.
"As a police chief, you don't want to lose control of the operations of your department, but understand you have to be fiscally responsible."
Vespia says local control gives him the ability to track calls in an emergency, and that it helps the allocation of resources.
But he says consolidation offers savings.
"...between 439, and 592 thousand dollars in potential savings," explains Vespia.
Besides emergency calls, the North Port 911 center handles all the calls made directly there to the police department- more than 81,000 calls a year.
If the merger does happen the police chief proposes hiring a Community Service Officer to take those calls 24/7. The position, says Vespia, would continue to provide police officers access to data they may not have on the road.
The consolidation of both 911 centers appeals to some residents like Linda Weitzel, who says, "Because it will all go through one system, and not transfer back and forth from one to the other."
Vespia assures residents they will have service either way.
"Regardless if we go to consolidated dispatch, or maintain our own, if you need police service, you're going to get it."
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