The state is providing some financial help to an effort at consolidating police, fire and EMS dispatching in the area.
The Ohio Development Service Agency has awarded a $500,000 grant for costs a computer aided dispatch software system, according to a March 27 press release issued by Summit County Executive Ilene Shapiro's office.
The grant is in connection with a proposed consolidation of dispatch services, under an independent entity called a council of governments, by Summit County, Stow, Cuyahoga Falls and Tallmadge, says the press release.
"Obviously, I'm very pleased," Stow Mayor Sara Kline told the Stow Sentry March 29. "The efforts of a lot of people went into securing that [grant] and it's definitely a helpful step and something that's beneficial towards the movement forward in trying to get the COG formed and get shared equipment."
Cuyahoga Falls officials reacted with equal enthusiasm, also on March 29.
"Partner communities such as Cuyahoga Falls will benefit by realizing substantial cost savings by sharing resources," said Mayor Don Walters. "Regionalization can be very successful when community leaders work together to improve efficiencies and share costs."
"This is fantastic," said Fire Chief Paul Moledor. "Community partnership is at an all time high point. We must continue to work together on these type of issues."
According to the press release, advancements in communications technology has required communities to update software from what was developed before smart phones and other devices became common.
"As communities look toward consolidation joining together on the same CAD platform improves the efficiency of dispatch operations and provides better safety responsiveness," the release states.
With this in mind, the county and communities applied for the grant. They are currently pricing CAD systems that would be used by the proposed consolidated dispatch center, as well as Akron, which is not part of the proposed COG. It is estimated the total cost of a CAD system will total between $4 million and $5 million.
In the press release, Shapiro said the upgrade will be "an essential piece of the technology infrastructure we need as our current systems age and reach their end-of-life."
"As local government resources have been reduced over the last decade, we have worked to become innovative in finding ways to pay for necessary upgrades and capital needs like emergency 911," said Shapiro. "The grant from the State of Ohio will pay a significant portion of the costs to upgrade and consolidate out CAD system."
The press release said that even if the county and communities do not consolidate dispatching, they will still be able to use the grant to purchase a shared dispatch system.
The county and cities are currently in the planning stages of combining dispatch, with the leading candidate for a location about 5,000 square feet of vacant space in the rear of a Summit County Health Department building on the south side of Graham Road, just west of Route 8.
Planners representing the county and cities are divided into five committees, each looking at a different aspect of a COG and consolidated dispatching, including financial, legal, facilities, technology and operations.
County Council and the respective city councils would each have to approve the formation of a COG and Kline said planners are "still evaluating everything and looking to get recommendations to the legislative bodies this spring."
The county and the three cities are not the only entities that would potentially be impacted by a dispatching consolidation.
Currently Stow dispatches for itself and, through service contracts, for Tallmadge, Mogadore and Randolph Township, with Tallmadge a partner in the consolidation effort. Cuyahoga Falls dispatches for itself and Munroe Falls, Silver Lake and the Boston Heights police department through contracts. The Summit County Sheriff's office also dispatches for the Green and Lakemore police departments, the Akron-Canton Regional Airport and several townships it polices under contracts, including Northfield Center, Springfield and Twinsburg Township.
Editor's note: Cuyahoga Falls New-Press Editor Phil Keren contributed to this story.
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