UPDATE (3/6/19) – The Paso Robles City Council approved moving forward with a feasibility study. No decision was made on whether the potential consolidation will occur.
The city says the study is in its early stages and simply meant to gather information.
ORIGINAL STORY – Four police departments in San Luis Obispo County are looking into the possibility of making a major change to their dispatch services.
“We’re looking at the possibility of merging dispatch centers within the county to be able to provide better service to the community, maybe there might be some cost-saving measures,” said Chief Ty Lewis, Paso Robles Police Department.
A feasibility study would be done before any changes happen. It’s on Tuesday’s Paso Robles City Council agenda. The city manager could sign off on entering into an agreement to be a part of the study.
According to a staff report, other departments in California have already transitioned to this model. Chief Jerel Haley of the Atascadero Police Department worked for the Santa Cruz Police Department when it made the switch.
“We found that it was very beneficial both from a level of service throughout the county that was consistent and for the employees,” Chief Haley said.
The four dispatch centers in San Luis Obispo County that could be a part of this merger – Paso Robles, Atascadero, San Luis Obispo, and Cal Poly – had an average of 133,000 calls for service from 2015 to 2017.
Chief Lewis says it could improve responses, especially when more than one agency is needed.
“When we have regional centers, information gets out to the officers quickly because we’re not sharing it between three or four different agencies,” Chief Lewis explained. “It’s one point of information getting fed out via the radio or whatever information systems that we have.”
Meantime, the chief of the San Luis Obispo Police Department told KSBY the city spends close to $3 million annually for communication services. She also echoed the hope to benefit from this possible change by housing the regional dispatch center for greater efficiency and cost savings.
Cal Poly, which would also be part of the feasibility study, said, “The university will allow the results of that study to inform a decision about whether to take part in a consolidated system.”
Chief Lewis says the study will cost the City of Paso Robles a little more than $40,000.
According to the staff report, the overall cost of the feasibility study is more than $126,000 for 600+ hours of consulting time.