The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

January 4, 2013

Our View: Good 'policy'

The Joplin Globe

CARTHAGE, Mo. — There was a time, nearly two years ago, that the original premise of the Jasper County 911 service district had gone so far afield that our editorial board suggested it be disbanded.

Today, we take our hats off to those who are taking steps to create an emergency dispatch center envisioned in 1994 when voters approved the tax that would fund the dispatch center south of Carthage.

We are encouraged by Wednesday’s announcement that a proposal for contracts between the city of Joplin and the Jasper County Emergency Services Board would merge the dispatching centers so that the operations manager and 40 employees of both agencies would become employees of the city of Joplin. Joplin’s dispatch center would be moved to the JASCO site and the elected JASCO Board would have oversight over the director.

Even though the vision pre-1994 was to establish one central dispatching system in Joplin, that never happened.

Almost two decades and several power shifts later, what we have today in Jasper County is six different dispatch centers. Those centers dispatch for 12 different fire departments, 12 different police departments and two ambulance services. These agencies operate on five different computer-aided dispatch systems.

How much does all that cost you? A whopping $4.5 million a year. For that price tag you get a fragmented, inefficient emergency system.

The proposal would reduce costs and, most importantly, improve the ability for departments to communicate during emergencies and large-scale disasters.

The contract proposal will likely raise many questions and not everyone will embrace it. We are eager to hear more about combining the two largest dispatching services in our county and how the plan will better serve taxpayers.

A line in the proposal reads: “Consolidation is good public policy.”

Especially if it reduces costs and improves service.