CIRCLEVILLE – Circleville Safety Forces Unions have released a letter signed by all the officers, dispatchers, detectives, firefighters, EMS, and administrative staff affected by the merger. This includes both Circleville Fire Chief Brian Thompson and Circleville Police Chief Shawn Baer.
The letter talks about the Safety Levy that was supported by the group, warns of losing all control to the County, having dysfunctional relationships between the county and the city, inaccurate cost projections, staffing concerns over continual talks of job loss, and 911 monies owed to the city. Here is the complete letter without changes.
We the Firefighters, Dispatchers, and Police Officers of the City of Circleville want to first and foremost say thank you to the Mayor and City Administration for your unwavering support. We also appreciate the due diligence by the City Council for researching the facts in order to make the right decision on the future of the Circleville Safety Forces Dispatch Center. Also, several council members have taken the time to talk with employees and shown their support, to those council members your compassion means more to us than you will ever know. Everyone involved in making this decision are together as one united team with the sole goal to serve our wonderful citizens who deserve our best. We have 12 concerns we would like for you to consider while you discuss the decision to close the Circleville Safety Forces Dispatch Center.
- We know that closing the dispatch center IS NOT in the best interest of the safety and security of the citizens and employees of Circleville. This is based upon our training, certifications, and experience on the job. We
are the only people with the direct knowledge of how this will impact the city and want to make sure our recommendations are known. We are professionals in our fields as well as city employees and would hope you would trust us and our recommendations.
- We have done our very best for quite some time with limited resources, we can now do even better with the passing of the levy. However, if you close our dispatch center it will set us back and cancel out the benefits we gain from the levy. We will have to maintain the dispatch center for 2 years through the transition and during that time dispatchers will leave since they will have no job security. The extra officers hired by the levy will have to work in the dispatch center putting us right back where we started.
- When Firefighters, Dispatchers, Police Officers, and volunteers from the public went door to door last year to promote the levy we told the citizens the levy was for Firefighters, Dispatchers and Police Officers. We also made this known and discussed it at countless public meetings, on our social media, our discussions with council persons on council floor, anci our interviews with the media. We told the citizens the levy was to maintain our dispatch center and they responded by voting yes for the levy. During the drive to promote the levy we were acting as representatives of the city, our departments, and council as well. We must uphold what we told the citizens because what they voted for was
to maintain our dispatch center and everyone involved knew that or should have from all the information we provided.
4.The proposal from the county commissioners IS NOT for any actual firm dollar amount as has been proposed. It does not include any costs for the transition to the Sheriff Communication Center. Their proposal also has a clause that states that there may be “SUBSTANTIAL” costs in addition to their proposal.
- The proposal from Pickaway County “DOES NOT” maintain the current level of service offered by our dispatch center. It will require changes to workflows, procedures, software, hardware, and a reduction in services we provide.
- The proposal offered by the commissioners removed all control from the city, it offers no protection from increased costs when the contract expires. It does not allow for any representative from the city to have any input or decision-making ability.
- Communication and relationships with the Commissioners and several groups are dysfunctional. This is not opinion but supported by fact. A simple internet search will support this observation. Council voted unanimously that the Mayor negotiate with the County regarding consolidated dispatching. Rather than show respect to the Mayor or Council the commissioners refused to talk to the Mayor and went straight to council. The city has had to request 911 meetings by certified mail sent to each commissioner without any reply. The County Prosecutor has provided a written opinion of how the enhanced 911 money collected as a fee on all cell phones should be spent. The commissioners refuse to comply with her opinion and have spent over 1 million dollars of this money inappropriately. The Commissioners have had controversy with the health department, dog warden, and fair grounds. A few years ago, communication between the Commissioners and Sheriff was so poor that the Sheriff had to hire attorneys. At one point accusations were made by the Commissioners that the Sheriffs Department hacked into the commissioner’s computer network and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) became involved. Currently the union at the Sheriffs Department has filed suit against the Sheriff and the commissioners for unsafe conditions. The county radio system has had so many failures that the City Safety Forces left the county system and went to the state. This was despite several attempts to work through the problem with the commissioners. We know that releasing all control of our dispatching in the city will not be in the best interest of the Citizens of Circleville.
8. Safety Director Chamberlain has shown with actual figures obtained from outside independent sources that there will be a substantial increase in cost if the dispatch center is closed. Additionally, software and hardware worth several hundred thousand dollars will be wasted, much can’t be resold. Eventually if there is a savings at all it will be after the 5-year contract is up and the cost of the new contract is unknown but likely will increase.
- We have been told that closing dispatch will offer more money to hire officers. However, there has been no cost savings shown. This line of thinking also diminishes the importance of our dispatchers and how our dispatch center operates, which is vastly different than a rural dispatch center such as the county one. Our dispatchers provide a vital service that is different than what Police Officers or Firefighters provide.
Thinking that replacing them with additional police officers is a terrible misunderstanding of what our dispatchers do. Dispatching is a profession.
- Over a quarter of a million dollars is owed to the City of Circleville for reimbursement from enhanced 911 expenses that have been already paid by the city. This has been done by the Commissioners and not the 911 Committee as the law requires and as the prosecutor’s opinion requires. Without having any meetings, proper decisions by the 911 committee on how the money should be spent, or any meeting minutes to review on how and why the enhanced 911 money was spent it’s impossible for the public to have any involvement in how the 911 system is operated.
Furthermore, we ask council to formally request that the Commissioners obey the law and follow the opinion of the Prosecutor on how enhanced 911 funds should be spent. This would include how they have already been spending in the past several years. Law director Kenworthy has put the Commissioners on written notice of the City’s intent to file a lawsuit to recover these costs. Please make a resolution for Mr. Kenworthy to file this suit. That is a substantial amount of money and should be recovered
1 l.We request council to make a resolution to the Commissioners to hold a 911 Committee meeting and to request a vote for the wireless calls originating in the city to be sent directly to the City Dispatch Center as was originally voted on and approved in 2017. We also ask that Council request the Commissioners to hold a regular scheduled monthly public meeting of the 911 committee that is open to the public with documented meeting minutes. We ask this to be done immediately as it is a paramount safety concern.
12.Our final concern is more of a request. Council is spending a great deal of time and energy on making the decision if the City Dispatch Center should be closed or not. We appreciate councils research and desire to find the right answer. The promise made to the public by Safety Forces for the levy was that we would get our staffing up to the levels set forth by council for Police Officers, Firefighters, and Dispatchers. We are currently hiring several new employees upholding our promise. Several members of council during the levy discussions acknowledged that the lack of revenue was the real problem and promised to find revenue solutions so that in 5 years we wouldn’t need another levy. We would like to hear councils plans and discussions for how the city will increase revenue. This is a critical component to the success of Safety Forces when this levy is over in 5 years.
Based upon these 12 concerns it is impossible to accept the “contract” offered by the Commissioners and Sheriff Radcliff. Continued talk about this will cause employees to leave and undermine the levy which was to specifically bring our staffing up to approved levels.
Please support your safety forces and the citizens who voted yes for the levy. Please keep the Circleville Police & Fire Dispatch Center open and stop further discussion to close it. Despite all the fact finding and conversation we have had nothing should be allowed to override the will of the voters who overwhelmingly voted to keep the Circleville Dispatch Center open, please respect their vote.
We the undersigned respectfully ask your consideration of our concerns,