Charlotte to take Huntersville 911 calls
by Staff Writer
HUNTERSVILLE – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police will now handle communications for Huntersville police.
Commissioners voted at their Monday, April 16, meeting to contract with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department for police communications and records services. The deal with Charlotte-Mecklenburg police means that the Huntersville Police Department will no longer be a partner or participant in the North Mecklenburg Call Center in Cornelius. The call center opened in 1992 to serve the police departments for Cornelius, Huntersville, Davidson and Davidson College.
The decision was primarily, but not solely, about money. Huntersville Police Chief Phil Potter said the Huntersville Police Department will pay approximately $400,000 in the current fiscal year to participate in the North Mecklenburg Call Center. Under the agreement passed on Monday, Huntersville will pay about $260,000 per year to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police over the next five years for police communications services. In addition, Huntersville police will have to pay one-time costs of about $130,000 to tie dispatch and records networks into the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department network.
Cornelius police still use the northern call center and didn’t want to lose their neighbor as a partner.
“We never wanted them to leave, just looking at regionalism,” Cornelius Town Manager Anthony Roberts said in March. “That’s why we got into it together and we wanted to continue that relationship.”
In a last-ditch effort to keep the Huntersville Police Department on board, Cornelius police offered three different proposals last month for Huntersville to continue working with the North Mecklenburg center. The only one of the three that Potter said would have been adequate for his department’s needs involved adding a dedicated radio frequency for Huntersville (the departments currently share a single frequency) and adding four full-time dispatchers next year. That proposal would have cost $475,000 per year.
Potter said the switch to Charlotte-Mecklenburg police communications also gives patrol officers access to a larger database of police records, and “more operational and supervisory personnel on-duty to handle spikes in workload during unforeseen emergencies.”
The board voted four-to-one to make the switch. Commissioner Charles Guignard was the lone dissenting vote, saying he believed the issue went much deeper than money.
“We will not be happy about this in the long run,” Guignard said before the vote. “Charlotte-Mecklenburg has not treated us right on any occasion that I can think of on roads, on schools, on utilities, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I don’t believe they’re going to change their colors just because we’re talking about dispatch.”
In other board news
Ken Holtje spoke on behalf of the 18 residents who participated in Huntersville 101, an 8-week class that educated participants in town operations. On behalf of the group, Holtje awarded Mayor Jill Swain and Town Manager Greg Ferguson with a “Certificate of Competence.” See Holtje’s letter to the editor on page 21.
The board also voted to change the subdivision ordinance allowing more flexibility for the town in taking on the responsibility of maintenance for new roads. The town only accepts roads for maintenance when at least 75 percent of the homes are already built and requires a one-year maintenance bond from the developer to cover damage to the roads from construction equipment and delivery trucks.
This has become an issue because construction has slowed dramatically in recent years. The change allows the town to accept roads in subdivisions that are only 60 percent built out, but would require a two-year maintenance bond.