STAFFORD – The Barnegat Police Department announced they will be using the Stafford Township Police Department for their police dispatch services.
According to a statement released on January 1 by Chief Keith A. Germain of the Barnegat Police Department, the Barnegat Township Committee had passed a resolution to come into a shared services agreement with Stafford Township to use their police dispatch services.
Since 2016, the Barnegat Police Department has had a shared services agreement with the Ocean County Sheriff’s Department. Using the County’s dispatch services was a result of the unsustainable costs the Department was facing by having in-house dispatch. After considering all their options to resolve the cost issues, the best solution was to use the County’s services.
“Sheriff (Michael) Mastronardy stepped up in the PD’s hour of need and created a shared services solution that represented a significant cost savings for the Township,” Chief Germain said. “That 2016 Township Committee made the best decision for the Township based on the recommendation presented to them by the police department at that time.”
After five years of using the County’s services, the Department received much feedback from the community and their officers on how they miss local dispatch and its benefits. With this in mind, Barnegat Township created an agreement with Stafford Township to share their police dispatch services.
“The advantage of having local dispatch is having more intimate knowledge of the local landscape and geography, the issues that are specific to our community,” Chief Germain explained. “So Stafford being a neighboring agency, who we work with often, it just makes sense for us to bring it closer to home.”
According to Chief Germain, this transition will have no impact on response time. 9-1-1 calls are always routed to the county 9-1-1 center. The change is when people call for non-emergency issues, those calls will now be answered by Stafford. The people dispatching calls whether they are 9-1-1 calls are not will now be Stafford.
“Local dispatch costs us more than double than what the Sheriff’s dispatch costs, it’s a significant difference,” Chief Germain said. “So having Stafford’s services, it’s the benefits of in-house without having the cost of in-house services.”
Chief Germain further explained how having a local dispatch team will go hand in hand with their community policing initiative.
“The whole neighborhood policing initiative is focused on microlocal, hyperlocal issues and the closer we can bring dispatch to home, the smaller the geographic area, the smaller number of people we’re trying to serve, the more intimate communication we can have with that service population,” Chief Germain said.
Over at the Stafford Police Department, they’re making adjustments to prepare for this new transition.
“The first thing we will be doing is expanding our communications center,” Captain James Vaughn of the Stafford Township Police Department said. “Currently, our communication center houses three dispatch consoles with the ability to have three dispatchers working in the room at any given time and what we’re doing is doubling that. So, we are going to put in three additional dispatch, which gives us the ability to have six dispatchers working. Which of course will help us with the extra workload of taking on Barnegat police.”
Timothy Cunningham, the Lead Public Safety Telecommunicator at the Stafford Police Department, expressed how both Stafford and Barnegat residents will benefit from this change.
“It’s definitely going to benefit our residents and Barnegat’s residents as well. When we’re able to bring together the resources of not one but two police departments we’re able to bring on new technology, new ideas, new policies and new procedures which are only going to help us respond to calls quicker and service the residents of both towns to a much higher degree.” Cunningham stated.
Captain Vaughn said he’s excited for this new experience for both Stafford Township and Barnegat.
“So far everything has been good. The upgrades we’ve made and some of the things we’ve done in dispatch, everything is going smoothly,” said Captain Vaughn. “I’ve been in Stafford now for 25 years and I got to say I’m really excited about this transition. I think it’s a great move.”