Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIV, No. 47
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
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Borough Considers Shared Police Dispatch Services With Municipal Neighbors

Dilshanie Perera

With talk about consolidation and sharing services looming large in local political discourse across the state, municipalities are considering new ways to combine forces and achieve efficiencies and savings. Enter police dispatch services.

While dispatch for fire and first aid services for the Borough and Township is managed at the county level, with a single dispatch center sending out calls to responders suited to the particular emergency, police dispatch is handled mostly by the municipalities themselves.

Interest has been piqued regarding whether sharing dispatch services would yield cost savings and greater efficiency, a potential win-win for towns and police departments.

Borough Council recently passed a resolution allowing Police Chief David Dudeck to look into shared services pertaining to police dispatch, whether it be on a county-wide level, or organized as a partnership with neighboring municipalities.

Mr. Dudeck reported during a Council meeting that talk about county dispatch services at a recent meeting of the chiefs of police from departments across Mercer County “didn’t go over too well.”

Certain police-related services are already shared among Mercer municipalities, for example, the Child Abduction Response Team operates countywide.

Currently, Mr. Dudeck is looking at a possible dispatch partnership between Princeton Borough, Ewing, Hopewell Township, and Lawrence Township. “I will bring [Borough Council] all the figures and pros and cons,” he said.

At the meeting, David Goldfarb acknowledged that moves toward shared police dispatch originated in conversations between the Citizens Finance Advocacy Taskforce (CFAT), Council, Chief Dudeck, and Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes.

The three other municipalities have been planning to consolidate their police dispatch services for the past two years, but economic travails and a lack of funding prevented them, according to Mr. Dudeck. The Borough entered the conversations with the other municipalities last month. “Now what we need to do is to work out exactly what it would cost each department,” he said.

Lawrence would host the dispatch center, and the participating municipalities are currently determining whether it is big enough to house the dispatch services of the four departments.

“Different things have to be ironed out,” Mr. Dudeck conceded, including determining whether the technology is compatible across departments, and standardizing police radios.

The next meeting of the municipalities is scheduled for December.

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