Please see the Q&A, below, that was developed from questions and comments from our community. We certainly appreciate the participation and hope that the following will serve as a valuable tool that assists our residents as we look to move into this partnership with the City of Willoughby.
Q: Who will receive priority when all neighboring cities are overwhelmed with calls?
A: (Chief Hutton) The most critical calls always take priority. Kirtland currently staffs one dispatcher 24/7, Willoughby staffs two 24/7 and one additional during busy hours. Willoughby also has several dispatchers that live near the Dispatch Center and can be called in to assist. Any dispatch center can become overwhelmed at any time, Eastlake is the direct back-up to Willoughby.
During major incidents or storms, Kirtland Police and Fire units will move off the Willoughby radio channel and manage incidents using a Unified Command Post. Calls will be relayed to Command and dispatched to our own units. We both use MDT’s and can log the majority of our times and information. We have been using this model for many years and it works very well.
During Active Shooter/Mass Casualty Incident it is the Lake County Fire Chiefs SOG that we automatically move to our back-up dispatch center to handle all FD/EMS radio traffic.
There are plans already in place at all dispatch centers to handle the overflow. In Kirtland’s case, Central is our back-up, however, the fact that they will always be overwhelmed with receiving all cellular 911 calls, Willoughby is a better option.
A: (Chief Nosse) The priority would go to the community in need the most. If that is Kirtland, then Kirtland would be the priority. As is today, each community (Willoughby or Kirtland) may need to contact mutual aid to assist in the emergency to not have any delays in response. This is the currently procedure already in place and that we (Kirtland) use.
Q: The Mayor assures us that service time will not be delayed. And that Willoughby dispatchers will ride along with our Police and Fire for orientation of the city but does not detail the extent to which this will happen. How many days, hours, etc.?
A: (Chief Hutton) All Willoughby dispatchers will be oriented on the City of Kirtland. We currently do this orientation for new Kirtland Dispatchers and will use the same training for Willoughby. The goal would be to teach them our response area, target hazards, parks, etc. Willoughby and Kirtland both share the same operating systems for police and fire. All data pertaining to crimes, violent history, medical history, fire station areas, auto-aid zones, lock boxes and all other data will be on the CAD screen in front of the dispatcher, whether in Kirtland or in Willoughby. The Call Works System will also pinpoint the exact address and area on the map. Although the ride-a-long is valuable, the PSAP and CAD training is the most important aspect of the dispatcher’s role.
A: (Chief Nosse) We are currently scheduling ride-a-longs with the Willoughby Dispatchers beginning the first week in June. These ride-a-longs will continue for as long as needed to ensure the dispatchers are as comfortable as possible.
Q: From what I understand, Willoughby will not be adding another dispatcher to handle this extra work. How will this affect the quality for me as a resident?
A: (Chief Hutton) Willoughby will not be adding any full-time personnel at the onset of our agreement. They will be adding several part-time dispatchers and our dispatchers have been encouraged to apply. The part-time dispatchers will be used to provide additional staff during peak times. Willoughby will evaluate the system after a TBD time period, if it is determined additional full-time staff are required, they will add staff. We are confident Willoughby will provide outstanding and personal service to all Kirtland residents.
A: (Chief Nosse) It is my understanding that Willoughby intends to hire additional dispatchers, at least part-time, to start and fill the additional dispatch desk during peak hours for better coverage between both communities. Willoughby has indicated they are currently in the hiring process and several of our Kirtland Dispatchers have applied.
Q: Why do we need 2 fire stations? Is this a luxury we can no longer afford?
A: (Chief Hutton) The short answer is response time. KFD covers over 20 square miles and having two stations provides a rapid response to both fire and EMS incidents.
Q: Rumor Willoughby is not paying for the dispatch center and that they are getting a grant?
A: (Chief Hutton) Not true.
A: (Chief Nosse) I have no knowledge of Willoughby getting a grant for a dispatch center.
Q: How will this affect the quality for me as a resident?
A: (Chief Hutton) Should be no change when calling 911 or during an emergency. One benefit, Willoughby will provide medical and CPR instruction where Kirtland cannot always do so. Also, Willoughby will always have multiple dispatchers on-duty and are better suited to handle large scale events. The most significant change is there will be no dispatcher at the window after hours for walk-in incidents or questions.
A: (Chief Nosse) Regarding the concern of diminishing the quality of service our residents are accustom to, we are working very closely with the Willoughby Dispatchers to acclimate them to how things are done through our department. There will be changes in some areas, however, at no time do I feel our community will be in jeopardy or have a drop-in service. Even now we (Willoughby and Kirtland) work together to provide a level of service to keep our communities as safe as possible with mutual aid and joint training.
Q: While I am glad to hear that two patrolmen may be promoted from part time to full time … I would like to hear Council and Administration publicly announce that this WILL ADD ADDITIONAL PATROLMEN ON THE STREETS.
A: (Chief Nosse) By changing the hybrid officers to permanently and strictly function on the road (full-time), will grant KPD the opportunity to restructure the shifts/platoons to have a minimum of three officers working every day. This result is a total commitment of 4160 hours of straight road strength. The need for the position to cover dispatchers time off will end.
A: (Mayor Potter) In the coming weeks and months, the Chief will be reworking the Police patrol schedule to maximize our patrol. He will consider “peak” days/hours, vacation schedules and continued officer training in this effort. This will be evolving as the schedule presents itself. As the Chief mentioned, our 50/50 officers will become full time officers and will no longer be needed to cover Dispatch.
Q: Does Kirtland PD have a jail? Do they hold prisoners? If so, if we lose our dispatchers will it change the ability to hold prisoners? Or take a patrolman off the road?
A: (Chief Nosse) The PD has a temporary holding/processing facility (Jail). Any prisoner brought back to KPD will require two officers. We are working on a contingency plan with Willoughby to utilize their jail for the same processing. Any prisoner being held, for any length of time, would be transported to the Lake County Jail for housing. This is how we currently operate.
Q: There are still only two officers on the road 90 % of the time…. is he going to allow for 3 or 4? (By “he,” we assume this person meant the Mayor)
A: (Chief Nosse) As previously stated, the restructuring of the shifts/platoons will add officers to the road that allows for flexibility. This flexibility will provide needed coverage to have three officers working daily. The only exception would be on Sundays as this is a “short day.” We are currently in the process of hiring two additional part-time officers to supplement the shifts.
Q: Rumor of hiring two other people to replace the Kirtland dispatchers. What’s their salary starting and over the 5 years. How much is the pension fund between the dispatchers and the new hires over 5 years?
A: (Chief Nosse) These 2 officers will start at “3rd. Class” Which currently has a salary of $59,455 progressing up to “2nd” Class” in 2021 ($62,740) and first class in 2022 ($67,227).
Q: Will city hall be manned 24-7, or will the residents have to pick up a phone that calls Willoughby?
A: (Chief Nosse) No. City Hall will only be staffed with a clerk Monday through Friday between the hours of 8AM to 5PM. There will be a phone in the vestibule that will directly call Willoughby Dispatch after hours.
Q: Do we need the community center?
A: (Mayor Potter) Yes. The Community Center houses our Senior Programs, offers fields for our Rec. Leagues and serves as a great meeting place for many of our residents and Civic organizations.
Q: What is going to next for the City of Kirtland? Are the fire departments, the police departments next?
A: (Mayor Potter) We are adding two full time officers to the Police Dept. and have budgeted for maintained level of staffing at the Kirtland Fire Dept. with no current plan or wish to change. But, due to the expected revenue losses due to COVID-19, if we do not consolidate Dispatch, we would have to immediately look to reducing staffing at the Fire and Police part time levels.
Q: In the 2020 Kirtland City budget the dispatch expenditure is $505,830.82. If dispatch is being eliminated, why is there only an $800,000 savings over 5 years? Yes, we pay Willoughby for the dispatch service, but there is a disconnect between $2,529,154 over 5 years and $800,000 over 5 years. Please help us understand.
A: (Mayor Potter) As a result of paying $600,000 for Dispatch services to Willoughby over the next five years vs spending $2,529,154 over the same period, mentioned above for internal dispatch, the City of Kirtland stands to save $1.9 million over the next five years on dispatch for the community. Factoring in the addition of two full time officers to our Kirtland Police Department, creating a hybrid Police Administrative Assistant position as well as other ancillary costs during the transition, Kirtland taxpayers can expect the city to save $800,000 over the next five years. See Impact Analysis Worksheets.
Q: I hear it will cost $120,000 a year to go to Willoughby dispatch. Over 5 years that will be $600,000 paid to Willoughby. Is the $800,000 including the cost of $600,000?
A: (Mayor Potter) Yes. As stated above, factoring in the $600,000, the net savings of the partnership with Willoughby will be $800,000 to the city of Kirtland over the next five years.
Q: Even if we focus on savings alone, didn’t we already evaluate this issue and the council determined it would cost less money in the long run to stay with a local dispatch?
A: (Mayor Potter) We now know that by creating this partnership with Willoughby we will realize a significant savings as compared to what would have been saved, had Kirtland gone to County Central two years ago. Previously, the only analysis included Lake Country Central Dispatch which required us to abandon our system altogether and incur substantial costs to join their system. Recently, we discovered that Willoughby is a willing partner, and that because of more redundancies in processes, the cost to switch to Willoughby will be minimal and result in a smoother transition than if we were to move to Central.
Q: In 2018 Council concurred that there would be more “cons” by outsourcing and said there was no savings, and that it would actually cost MORE to outsource. So how did that change from just a short time ago?
A: (Mayor Potter) The previous Council made its decision based on the information given at the time, which included partially funding dispatch from the Fire budget. The new Finance team now attributes the actual costs to Dispatch, therefore the decision to venture jointly with Willoughby quickly became attractive, justifiable and responsible.
Q: What is the difference in price, training of dispatchers and what you’re getting between Willoughby dispatch vs. central dispatch?
A: (Mayor Potter) The venture with Willoughby will save $45K more a year than the most recent proposal from Central. Not to mention the $100,000 upfront cost for a Fire Alert System (needed to assimilate to Central), CAD upgrade for Police & Report Management System (RMS). Like Central, Willoughby dispatchers are highly trained and professional.