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State police consider consolidating dispatchers out of St. Lawrence County

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CANTON — In a continued effort at consolidation, state police dispatchers in St. Lawrence County’s Central Dispatch Center may find a new home in Essex County.

The consolidation of dispatchers for the agency’s nine patrol troops has been ongoing for several years. State police are evaluating dispatch operations for Troop B, which patrols Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton and St. Lawrence counties, state police spokeswoman Darcy L. Wells said.

“We will be evaluating Troop B’s communication structure and developing a specific plan,” Ms. Wells said. “Decisions on the phases of the Troop B consolidation have not yet been determined.”

What has been determined is that state police will be looking to “improve efficiency and effectiveness while maintaining the same or improved levels of service,” Ms. Wells said.

“One of the immediate benefits will be having troopers formerly assigned to dispatch duty available for patrol assignment to respond to calls for service,” Ms. Wells said. “No state police communications specialist jobs will be eliminated.”

That was the case when state police closed their Malone communications center in October 2008, according to a report by the Plattsburgh Press Republican at the time of the closure.

Dispatchers from that station were given the option to move to dispatch centers in either Plattsburgh or Ray Brook.

St. Lawrence County’s dispatch center at 48 Court St. also houses dispatchers for the county sheriff’s and Emergency Services departments.

Emergency Services Director Michael J. LeCuyer said he has heard “hints and allegations” at the station about the possibility of state police dispatchers moving to the new consolidated dispatch center in the town of Lewis, Essex County.

Mr. LeCuyer said he believed there would be an impact on the dispatch center without a state police dispatcher’s presence, but it’s too soon to know what the impact would be.

“It’s nice to have a state police officer there if we need assistance,” Mr. LeCuyer said. “But without having a lot of detail on how it is going to work out, I would be reluctant to say how it is going to impact us.”

One concern has been that dispatchers in Essex County receiving 911 calls from St. Lawrence County might have difficulty dispatching troopers to outlying areas because they are unfamiliar with the county’s geography.

Essex County Emergency Services Director Donald S. Jaquish said those 911 calls wouldn’t be affected, as his dispatch center has a computer-aided dispatch system to track where troopers are.

“The dispatchers here have the CAD mapping system that will let them know where their troopers are located throughout the region,” Mr. Jaquish said. “So 911 won’t be affected.”

The CAD system also is being installed in the St. Lawrence County Dispatch Center, Mr. LeCuyer said, adding that state police may be working with the county in the program.

“There is a potential that they will buy into this system as well,” Mr. LeCuyer said. “If they put the system into their cars, each car will have an identifier that will pick up on our computer displays.”

Overall, the consolidation of dispatchers, a cost-saving measure, will lead to the Essex County Dispatch Center being Troop B’s communication hub, Mr. Jaquish said.

“The Lewis-based dispatch center has already taken in the Saranac Lake state police dispatch position,” he said. “So they are already here. It will be all of Troop B eventually.”

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