Porter County Sheriff's Department

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C-Comm 911 Takes over Portage Dispatch

John Luke | The Times Nadine Johnson, secretary to Portage chief of police, left, works to transfer 911 calls from Portage to the Porter County Sheriff's Department on Tuesday morning with Jim Duffy, from Verizon who helped set up the new system. Barb Vaughan, chief clerk for Portage Police Department, helps out on dispatch in the background

Portage: Portage dispatchers officially move to county center Tuesday morning

Portage 911 dispatch consolidation complete


By Joyce Russell nwi | Posted: Wednesday, December 30, 2009

PORTAGE | The last 911 emergency call came into the Portage Police station just before 11 a.m. Tuesday. A few minutes after the hour the consolidation of the Portage dispatch center was completed with that of Porter County's.  After nearly a year of work and some uproar over the move, officials said Tuesday morning's transition went smoothly.  "It went well. We made sure we all the bases were covered," Portage Mayor Olga Velazquez said. Velazquez began working with county officials about a year ago on the consolidation.  Velazquez said the goals set then were met with the transition. Public safety was the No. 1 priority along with maintaining employment for the city's dispatchers, she said.  Eight of the former city dispatchers went on the county's payroll as of 6 a.m. Tuesday. Two of the former dispatchers remain with the Portage department as clerks.  The move, she said, is saving Portage about $500,000.  For county 911 Director Dave Sheibels, the year of work and coordination will mean more efficiency.  "It is a better coordinated effort. Everyone know what everyone is doing, where everyone is at," Sheibels said. Only Chesterton and Porter maintain their own dispatch services, but those are secondary services. Emergency 911 police calls for those communities initially come into the county and are then connected to the local departments.  Last minute work was completed Tuesday morning at the county center located within the Porter County Sheriff's Department on Ind. 49.  Sheibels said after a memorandum of understanding between the county and city was completed in the summer, vendors went to work to build a high speed network between the two facilities including the construction of a fiber optics network. The work was done ahead of schedule.  "It ran relatively smoothly with no surprises," said Sheibels, adding the county center had received just over 100,000 calls so far in 2009. Portage's calls, some 40,000, will now be coming into the center. LaPorte County will act as Porter County's "fail safe" back-up in case a major incident would take down Porter County's system.  The Portage dispatch center will eventually be remodeled, said Chief Mark Becker, and become part of the headquarters' lobby.

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