News : Peel Councillors Call for Action on Merging 911 Dispatch for Fire and Police
Brampton, Ontario, Canada, Jan 29, 2016 -- Peel councillors are tired of waiting on hold for an amalgamation of the region’s police and fire services emergency call centres.
During a Jan. 28 meeting, councillors demanded action on merging the 911 call centres and dispatch for Peel Regional Police and the region’s firefighting services.
Almost a year ago, Regional council asked the Peel Regional Police Services Board to review the separate fire and police emergency services communications centres operated out of Peel police headquarters in Brampton.
It was clear the analysis was intended to determine if merging the operations would produce a more efficient and cost effective arrangement for Peel residents.
A report, submitted by Deputy Police Chief Chris McCord, was presented to the police services board last October. Although the report concluded amalgamation of the communication centres would be "a viable option" for the region, it noted collective bargaining issues would have to be settled before contemplating formation of a joint call centre.
Neither the deputy chief or police services board recommended moving forward with amalgamation, instead, offering the report only as information.
But this past Thursday, Caledon mayor Allan Thompson told fellow councillors it is time to take action.
"This does not serve our residents. This encourages silo mentality," he suggested.
In the best interest of taxpayers, he said, it is time for council to show leadership and direction on this issue.
"I respect the collective agreement, but maybe we need to go back and think outside the box," said Thompson, who characterized the region’s call centre setup as antiquated compared to the joint emergency dispatch systems operated in big cities such as New York.
"We need to stand up and take a leadership role for our residents," he added.
Brampton regional councillor Gael Miles, who was a longtime member on the police services board, offered strong support for Thompson’s call to take council action.
"It’s about time that the Region of Peel made a decision to bring the call centres together," she said.
Brampton mayor Linda Jeffrey, a current member of the police services board, added her support and promised to convey councillors’ feelings at the Jan. 29 board meeting.
Currently in Peel there are three separate 911 call centres for police, fire and ambulance.
Peel police answers all 911 calls and, depending on the needs of callers, transfers calls to the appropriate emergency service. The call centre is the second largest and one of the busiest in the Greater Toronto Area, answering more than 600,000 calls a year.
While police and fire operate separate call centres in the same Brampton building, ambulance services dispatch is operated by the provincial government at a Mississauga location.
The amalgamation report highlighted the merging of separate protocols, directives, training, technology, collective agreements, staffing and salaries as issues that will have to be resolved in bringing fire and police call centres together.
However, as well as the potential cost savings, amalgamation could bring service efficiencies as delays are eliminated when 911 calls no longer have to be transferred from the police call centre to the fire service, the report noted.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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