Police chief: Keep 911 center
by Staff Writer
CORNELIUS – Police Chief Bence Hoyle is recommending the town maintain its 911 call center, rather than contracting with Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department, but town commissioners will not decide before next month.
During the town board of commissioners’ pre-meeting Monday, Jan. 23, Hoyle said if the town wanted to maintain its level of service, it needed to stay the course.
The move to CMPD would not save the town much money, and if the town closed its 911 center, because of new state regulations, they couldn’t open it up again in the future, Hoyle said.
“The real cost of closing the center has no dollar figure,” Hoyle said. “Our dispatchers are directly involved in doing things our way. They understand Cornelius and Huntersville and they focus on that. We will see a huge service hit if we close.”
Monday’s presentation was spurred by the town of Huntersville ending its 911 contract with Cornelius and contracting with CMPD.
Hoyle said the Cornelius 911 call center, which operates with a seven-digit primary public safety answering point (PSAP), up-to-date radio equipment, GPS tracking for its police cars, and more, would lose all of that if it closed its doors and contracted with CMPD.
The Cornelius call center opened in 1992 and since then has contracted with Huntersville, Davidson — which went back to CMPD — and Davidson College.
Huntersville notified the town last year that they’d be switching to CMPD, raising commissioners’ concerns about costs.
But Hoyle said even if Huntersville had stayed on, the costs of operating the center would have gone up because the call volume has gone up every year. Since 2000, the number of total calls was up 341 percent in 2010.
“If they’re going to leave, this is the best time for it because we’re going to have to do something,” Hoyle said.
He said the cost on paper when Huntersville pulls out is about $190,000, but that cost can be offset by things like using dispatchers for administrative duties during down times, plus the call volume will be lower.
Hoyle said CMPD has a good 911 system, but the call volume prevents them from being able to provide a level of service Cornelius residents are accustomed to, plus it will close the town’s police department at night.
Hoyle said the department would also lose its breathalyzer machine, which would result in a one-hour delay for testing for each alcohol related arrest.
Commissioners will seek public input before voting at their Feb. 6 meeting.