Birkner Calls For Temporary Shared Dispatch Service
Westwood and Washington Township successfully shared dispatching services during a test run Tuesday.
A trial run for shared emergency dispatching services between Westwood and Washington Township was successful, according to police officials. Westwood Mayor John Birkner said he believes the two municipalities can enter a temporary shared services agreement that will save money while a more permanent agreement that also includes River Vale and Old Tappan can be worked out.
The combined dispatching test, which was held between Westwood and Washington Township Tuesday, was orignally supposed to also include River Vale and Old Tappan, but a glitch in their phones prevented the full test from happening. River Vale and Old Tappan have shared emergency dispatching services since Old Tappan started its police department. Westwood Police Chief Frank Regino and Washington Township Police Chief Randy Ciocco both said Tuesday's two-town test was a success.
"It went off basically without a hitch," Ciocco said.
Because the test went well, Birkner suggested at a Borough Council meeting Tuesday night that the two municipalities could enter into an interim agreement while local officials work out the details of the more complex four-town agreement. Birkner estimated a temporary shared dispatch service could save as much as $100,000.
"If we can do it for one day, if we can do it for a week, we can certainly do it for six months," Birkner said.
Council President Cynthia Waneck and Council Member Robert Miller disagreed, saying it would be best to concentrate on the full agreement. Birkner said he expected the process to take at least six months, while Miller said it should take three months at most.
"We know where we want to go," Miller said. "We know how we want to get there. Let's focus on getting there and doing that right."
The eventual plan, according to Westwood officials, is to have an autonomous entity, which is not a part of any of the local police departments, running the dispatching services for the four municipalities. There will be some legal issues to work out, such as what happens if one of the municipalities later decides to bow out of the service, Miller said.
Washington Township Council President Richard Hrbek told Patch Wednesday the township government is still looking at a variety of options for shared services and a longer test will likely happen before a final agreement is made.