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St. Lawrence County may study central dispatching

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CANTON — St. Lawrence County is applying to the state for up to $50,000 to study consolidation of dispatching services.

If funding through the Department of State’s Local Government Efficiency Grant is successful, the county — in partnership with Ogdensburg, Gouverneur and Potsdam — could look at whether it makes economic and logistical sense to pool police and emergency dispatching into a central system.

If centralization appeared to offer advantages, other communities could be brought in.

“If you don’t study it, how do you know?” Mayor Ronald P. McDougall said.

911 dispatching is done through the emergency services center in Canton but municipalities with police departments also have dispatchers to handle non-emergency calls for more minor complaints.

The study would look at combining all dispatch at one location.

It would consider technical and telecommunication questions, current equipment and future needs, space, and how employees would be handled.

“That’s probably the most difficult part,” said Heidi J. Ames, a county planner who wrote the grant in conjunction with the Office of Emergency Services and the Sheriff’s Department.

The study would most likely be put out to competitive bid.

“Next generation 911 has a variety of technical requirements. We really need a specialist,” Mrs. Ames said. “The study’s going to look at the big picture.”

The county would also look at models set by others which have consolidated in recent years, such as Oneida and Schnectady counties, Mrs. Ames said. The state has made a recent drive to standardize emergency response to encourage everyone to have matching systems, she said.

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