This letter was sent to me the other day but I haven't had time to post it. It's since been posted on the Asbury Park Press under the title "County dispatching move threatens public safety".
I posted the letter on the MIDDLETOWN, New Jersey Facebook page and its gotten quite a reaction. It's been shared over 40 time and has over 120 comments. Go take a look.
Regarding the April 5 story, “Middletown to lay off dispatchers, join county’s 911 center,” the township will not have to pay to keep these employees on the payroll, but the residents will continue to pay to keep them on the county payroll. There are no real savings here since county 911 operators receive higher pay.
In 2011 the township borrowed more than $600,000 to purchase a state-of-the art 911 computer system, which did not include installation costs. This loan still has another five years of payments remaining. Payments will continue to be made on equipment that will be used only as a backup.
The announcement stated that the township will be paying $475,000 to the county on an annual basis, with a maximum 2 percent annual increase over the next four years. By the time the original loan is paid, in five years, the township will have paid the county more than $2 million in fees. This, plus the remaining loan payments, will total more than $2.3 million.
This move also could jeopardize public safety if a call is misdirected. A five-minute delay in response time to a fire is the difference between a room being lost and an entire home. A five-minute delay in response to a heart attack victim is the difference between life and death. Contrary to reports, there are no guarantees that a former Middletown dispatch operator will answer calls received from Middletown, who have knowledge and wisdom about the township’s 42 square miles.
Better decisions need to be made by our elected officials regarding the safety of the residents and especially the emergency responders who work and volunteer in Middletown. Saving a few dollars cost much more in the end.