The Newman Police Department is leaving Stanislaus Regional 911 and will have its emergency calls handled by Oakdale dispatchers under an arrangement officials say will save the cities money and provide them with better service.
This decision comes on the heels of Modesto releasing a consultants study in May that found fault with the center, which was formed in 1999 by Modesto and Stanislaus County.
The Oakdale and Newman city councils approved the deal in the past week, and Newman City Manager Michael Holland informed the Stanislaus Regional 911 board of directors Tuesday of his city’s decision.
Newman will end its relationship with Stanislaus Regional effective Jan. 1 and will enter into a five-year contract with Oakdale at an annual cost of $186,000 for each of the first three years and $191,580 for each of the final two years.
Holland said Newman will pay Stanislaus Regional nearly $277,000 this year for police dispatch services. He added that Newman has seen what it pays Stanislaus Regional nearly triple in about a decade.
The additional money from Newman will let Oakdale ramp up its dispatch services. For instance, it will increase staffing from five full-time dispatchers to seven and hire an additional call taker-clerk. Oakdale officials say this will benefit both communities.
“We feel that this will enhance emergency police services to both cities and ultimately result in savings for both cities,” Oakdale Police Chief Lester Jenkins wrote in a report to his council.
Holland said Newman residents and businesses calling 911 for the police will get better service because of the lower call volumes compared with Stanislaus Regional 911, which dispatches for all fire and law enforcement agencies in the county except for Oakdale and Ceres police and Turlock police and fire.
The Newman Volunteer Fire Department will continue to use Stanislaus Regional but with a price reduction. Newman expects to pay $9,000 for fire dispatch services during the first six months of 2015, which is a rate about half of what it has been paying.
Holland said Newman’s decision to leave should not be seen as a criticism of Regional 911 and its dispatchers. “The city would like to thank all the hardworking individuals at Stanislaus Regional ... ,” he wrote in his letter to the dispatch center’s directors. “Our change is not a direct result of their professionalism. Ultimately, the agreement with our new provider was an opportunity we could not pass up.”
A consultant’s report commissioned by Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll and released in May concluded that his Police Department was not getting its money’s worth from the center because of ineffective senior leadership, a demoralized and confused workforce, and out-of-control employee costs.
Carroll, who has been police chief since January 2013, commissioned the report – with Jackman Associates of Long Beach at a cost not to exceed $49,000 – because of the concerns he was hearing about the dispatch center. The public complained about not always being able to get through, and officers complained about being placed on hold while dispatchers answered 911 calls.
County leaders said the report was inaccurate, unfair and unprofessional. In August, Modesto and Stanislaus County agreed to hire the consulting firm Matrix to conduct another review of the center, at a cost not to exceed $50,000. The report is expected to be completed in early December.