Civilian Dispatchers Recommended For Hillsdale Police
Hillsdale officials have determined the use of civilian dispatchers in the police department would save money while keeping headquarters open at night.
Trained civilians could replace police officers for Hillsdale's emergency dispatching at a savings of about $246,000 per year and allow the police department to remain open at night.
Council President Michael Giancarlo announced Tuesday that the majority of members of the dispatching committee had decided it would be best to use civilian dispatchers in the police department rather than enter a shared service agreement with an outside group like Bergen County.
"This strategy of using trained civilian dispatchers instead of police officers takes into account both the financial and safety concerns," Giancarlo said.
Using civilian dispatchers instead of police officers will save about $246,000 per year, according to Giancarlo. Using Bergen County's dispatch service in Mahwah could have saved an additional $52,000 per year. Using county dispatching would have required the borough police department to be closed at night.
"For the majority of our committee, the nominal savings this would generate were thought to sacrifice a level of safety that our emergency services personnel and our committee members were not comfortable with," Giancarlo said.
Hillsdale Police Chief Chip Stalter previously told Patch he believed using civilian dispatchers would be the best option. More than 1,000 residents signed a petition to get a question about keeping the police department open at night on the ballot in November, though the question is likely no longer needed.
"We'll hopefully continue to give you an excellent product downstairs at a reasonable cost to the residents," Stalter said.
Councilman Douglas Frank said he believed the savings were positive, but may not be enough.
"As finance chair, I still have concerns about how we're going to make the numbers come together next year," Frank said. "I don't know where we're going to find the bags of gold we need to close our budget gap."
Mayor Max Arnowitz said he believed using civilian dispatchers was a "viable solution."
"I think the savings is significant enough to move forward," Arnowitz said.