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Posted on Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 5:56 a.m.

Ann Arbor officials say consolidation of emergency dispatch services could save jobs of police officers

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County officials have announced a breakthrough in talks they hope will lead to further cooperation on local dispatch services — and a good faith demonstration to the state they're taking the governor's call for consolidation seriously.

After nearly two decades and countless attempts by previous administrations, city and county officials said in a joint press release that discussions have begun anew to consolidate the city's dispatch function with the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office.

Consolidating dispatch staff would require the city to contract with the Sheriff’s Office for dispatch service. That would take both City Council and county board approval.

The move could save the city about $400,000 a year, according to Tom Crawford, the city's CFO and interim city administrator.

Crawford said the savings theoretically are enough to save the jobs of four police officers in next year's budget talks, though it wouldn't come soon enough to stop cuts taking effect July 1. He said it's too early to say if or how many dispatch employees might lose their jobs as part of the consolidation if it's approved.

"We're looking into this and investigating. This is not something where everything's sorted out yet," he said. "This will obviously take some time to work out."

Crawford said such arrangements have been done in other communities and it seems to make sense — especially given the fact that Gov. Rick Snyder is calling on communities to demonstrate they're moving toward consolidation of services in order to receive state aid.

"I do think this would qualify under the legislation I've seen as an example of what the state was looking for when they set up the incentive plan," Crawford said, noting that the city and county both have a long track record of working toward collaboration and consolidation.


Barnett Jones

Police Chief Barnett Jones said the consolidation could help police achieve their service and financial goals and keep police officers on the street, patrolling downtown and city neighborhoods.

The city's budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 includes cutting 13 positions in police, including six officer positions. The current plan for the following fiscal year includes cutting another 12 positions in police, including two sergeants, a lieutenant and nine patrol officers.

Sheriff Jerry Clayton told in an email that, as it stands right now, the county continues to evaluate the financials, but it appears the change would be cost-neutral for the county.

"Our overall benefit comes from having a fully staffed center that yields greater efficiency while maintaining the highest levels of service," he said, adding that the county realized significant savings during a dispatch co-location effort last year.

In June 2010, the city and the county co-located dispatch staff into one center as a cost-savings strategy that allowed the two organizations to leverage required radio system technology improvements and share overhead costs.

Going one step further to completely consolidate dispatch operations, officials say, would help to address common dispatch challenges such as determining the appropriate response jurisdiction based on a caller’s description of whereabouts.

"Broader situational awareness of police calls for service would be achieved because dispatchers would be more aware of calls for service countywide as opposed to single jurisdictions," the city's press release says. "Technology and infrastructure economies of scale and enhancements would continue to be achieved."

The operational change also would eliminate the need to transfer calls within the room from a county dispatcher to a city dispatcher and vice versa.

Officials say that would greatly lessen the possibility of a call being misrouted and minimize or eliminate any portion of hold times caused by a call transfer.

“The successful co-location of dispatch center staff allowed us to explore other municipal shared-service models and really focus on collaboration opportunities that would benefit our community,” Clayton said. “Executing a contract with Ann Arbor would allow us to follow in the steps of other counties such as Livingston and Genesee that have saved costs while maintaining service delivery to citizens.”

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's e-mail newsletters.



Sun, Jul 31, 2011 : 1:35 p.m.

all i can tell u is in Monroe County there is one dispatch center that handles ALL Law enforcement calls,ALL Fire calls,and All Ambulance calls and it seems to work ok once the issue personnel issues of the High Command is straightened out. Take a look county and city bosses or is it a matter of pride of the Blue Brain Set?

One Who Care

Wed, Jun 15, 2011 : 2:42 a.m.

I find it interesting that on June 1st that City Council approved budget to save artwork throughout the city but won't do anything at all to save jobs for people that are literally saving lives of the citizens of Ann Arbor and surrounding cities. The Ann Arbor Dispatchers that have dedicated years and years to serving the city and the people that need them most and all City Council cares about is pieces of metal and other things that are called "artwork". I think this politically correct city and council need to take a long look at what is important for the city and the citizens involved. Is a $400,000 savings, which is not documented, really worth cutting all these positions and turning the safety of the city over to the county who will be short handed and overworked. I ask City Council to take a long look at what is important for the city and the public safety of its citizens. Do what is best for the city not what is going to make people think that you are for the free spirits of the city. Snyder is for consolidation but this isn't really consolidation. It is eliminating qualified people and decreasing efficiency while risking the lives of taxpaying citizens. This change is not necessary and needs further consideration. Lets hope City Council gets this decision correct.


Sat, Jun 11, 2011 : 1:25 p.m.

Cut 21 to save 4. Makes perfect sense. I wonder if we talk to dispatchers on both sides what they would say about the quality of dispatch services before and after. Crawford said it was a Nasty rumor. He never said it was false.


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 4:23 a.m.

I challenge the City to attempt to disprove the last statements...


Fri, Jun 10, 2011 : 4:14 a.m.

Let's ask the Chief why he just hired a SECOND secretary - yet he's laying off police and 911 dispatchers? Is the new secretary going to answer 911 phones or strap a gun on her side? BY THE WAY EVERYONE - the DISPATCHERS ARE PART OF THE POLICE they are not being sold out by the police - only the ADMINISTRATION! This co-location was a rouse...long term dedicated employees were used as pawns and are being kicked to the curb - lives are being destroyed. Barnett Jones and Jerry Clayton have pulled off a political powerplay. They look good, the MAYOR wins, and the citizens loose BIG! FOIA the Ann Arbor FD contract that took their dispatching to HVA. A police/fire dispatcher costs the City $53,0000 per year - just the START up costs to set up with HVA was almost a 1/2 million dollars. Not to mention that the City (AAFD) is billed everytime HVA dispatches to them. HOW is this a savings???? Get off your rear end and start being journalists...investigate and report! The CITY is giving you kool-aid. Keep drinking and when you feel like it's time to upchuck - it will be too late.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 5:56 p.m.

Oh Mr Ed, The world is changing and I am sure the union members realize that. Why are you blaming the union for the inefficiencies of the leaders of Ann Arbor? What did the union do that made the city lay off its members? I am sure the union can come up with many cost saving ventures but the city will not agree to them. Like for example, the FD would like to bring in a private mechanic to work on their fire trucks which would in turn save the city a lot of money. But guess who does not like that idea? The city. How bout the city cut one of its Deputy Chiefs? They currently have two Deputy Chiefs and one of them is responsible for 95% of the department. This would save the city some money and then they would not have to promote someone to a Lt as they would just have the DC return to the Lt rank. How bout all the senior level managers give up their car allowances in order to save money. Why should Steve Postema receive a car allowance and he walks to work? Why don't each senior level manager be responsible and submit their mileage on their tax returns instead of wasting taxpayers dollars for their car allowances. How bout the city get off the program of paying more for vehicles so they can have an alternative fuel source of E85? The city admits that they will pay more for these vehicles instead of being fiscally responsible. E85 costs the city more money to use as it is consumed at a higher rate than regular gasoline.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 5:46 p.m.

Ryan, When are you going to understand that the people that run the city are not always forthcoming with honest information. If the Deputy Chief already advised the dispatchers that they are to be laid off in January, then how is it a nasty rumor? Maybe Tom Crawford should check with Deputy Chief Bazick. When the idea of having a consolidated dispatch area was first construed, the city told its employees that they were not going to go to a Central Dispatch concept. They though are. And the public wonders why the employee's of the city do not trust their officials.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 5:40 p.m.

@Ponycar- You said "Public employee benefits should be in line with the private sector. Can anyone give me a reason (other than their badly negotiated contracts) that they should have better benefits than the rest of us? I believe the police officers in A2 are still some of the best paid in the state, aren't they? If I were them, I'd rather be here than in the D or it's nearby suburbs." Public employees in an apple to apple study make less including benefits than people in the private sector with the same educational background, experience and time on the job. So the public employees give up some pay in order to have better benefits and still make less money. I guess in order to be fair, we should raise the wages of the public employees in order for them to make the same as a person in the private sector. Sounds fair to me. I never knew that public employees must have the same benefits as the private sector. Maybe we should implement a national wage scale and benefit scale so everyone makes the same amount of money and has the same benefits.


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 7:38 a.m.

I agree with you ToddGack. I'm getting a laugh out of people crying "Communism" when you mention that maybe everyone everyone should make the same amount of money and have the same benefits when, on the other hand, they keep saying that "these union employees should be getting the same benefits as the private sector" - apparently they just want everyone to have the same benefit - but public employees the lower, obviously, they are not proposing "communism"..... Arrgghhhh...... I say pay the public employee more and then have the public employee contribute more to their healthcare benefits. Are healthcare benefits socialistic, BTW?


Tue, Jun 14, 2011 : 7:21 a.m.



Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 7:30 p.m.

good call... I think that has been tried in the past. It was called Communism and as I recall it didn't work out too well.

Ryan J. Stanton

Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

Tom Crawford said the idea that 21 dispatchers will lose their jobs Jan. 1 is a "nasty rumor" and no such decisions have been made. He said two dispatchers were notified they're going to be laid off July 1 as part of cuts identified in the city's 2011-12 budget, but nobody else in dispatch has received any kind of notice from the city that they will be losing their jobs.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 5:24 p.m.

At approximately 4pm, Deputy Chief Greg Bazick gave notice to each dispatcher that their positions were to be eliminated on Jan 1st. The dispatchers had no idea this was coming as this was not presented BEFORE the finalization of the 2011-12 budget. The dispatchers, with decades of seniority and benefits, will lose everything when they are forced to start over with the county. Mr Stanton, please take the time to contact those actually affected. I am sure they would be willing to confirm and/or dispel any nasty rumors associated with these lay-offs.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 4:25 p.m.

Every dispatcher in the dept. was given a notice of layoff effective January 1st. While it is nasty it is not a rumor.

Mr. Ed

Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

The world has changed get use to it. It sounds like some of the people at AAPD are whining. Your UNION could have saved your jobs with shared sacrifices. Consolidation is the future get use to the idea.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 5:58 p.m.

where was the shared part of the shared sacrafice? It was more like take our crappy health care plan or will take the axe to you. The sacrafice sounds kind of one sided with either choice. Try to use your catch phrases better.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 4:27 p.m.

and they could lay off officers anyway... that is what happened to the FD.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 3:33 p.m.

It is very sad that a tenure employee may lose their job after devoting 20 plus years to their respective employers. St. Joseph Mercy Health System is apparently doing the same thing, by laying off tenure employee's, with 15-25 years of SERVICE, instead of laying off the lower seniority/new employees. Why, because the "older" employee's make more money and since they have no union, they can't do anything about it. So apparently, St Joseph Mercy Health System will save alot money, at the expense of having less trained employee's caring for you. What ever happened to the loyalty of tenured employees just to save a buck. How does anyone expect to have any job security and work towards some type of retirement, with this type of practice in place? Very sad for all employee's in both the public and private sector, if this becomes the new norm.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 3:27 p.m.

I respect our police force and fire department and the job they do as much as anyone. That doesn't mean I am willing to preserve their jobs at any cost if their positions are unnecessary. I haven't noticed a huge increase (or any increase, for that matter) in crime as the police force has shrunk over the past few years. Maybe that will come eventually, but as it stands, it looks like we had more officers than we needed. The same goes for fire damage. It's too bad that many of the dispachers may lose their jobs, just like it's too bad many auto workers lost thier jobs to a more efficient robots years ago, but increased efficiency and elimination of redundancy does that sometimes. In the greater scheme of things, overall, the people of Ann Arbor will not be worse off for having the county take over dispach duties, it seems. Yes the county will get 911 funds and taxes from the city, but their costs will go up due to increased staffing. That is what is meant by revenue neutral. Cost and income will increase approximately the same. Public employee benefits should be in line with the private sector. Can anyone give me a reason (other than their badly negotiated contracts) that they should have better benefits than the rest of us? I believe the police officers in A2 are still some of the best paid in the state, aren't they? If I were them, I'd rather be here than in the D or it's nearby suburbs.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 5:53 p.m.

Just because you don't have decent health insurance then no one should? Maybe instead of demanding that people have less coverage you should be demandming that you have more. Plus don't you want the people who are going to be potentially saving your life in tip top shape? I dont think I want my police and firefighters skipping a physical or letting an ailment go cause its going to cost to much for them.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 3:50 p.m.

and how would you unless you yourself were victimized? This is less about how much crime has or will increase and more so about what will be done about it. You expect the police to respond to your call and catch the bad guys- that takes people. You expect the police to investigate and follow up on your complaint- someone has to be there to do that job. You expect the police department to take a proactive approach to problem solving and crime prevention- that takes people. What you will be left with is a totally reactive police department. They will receive a call that your house had been broken into and your stuff is gone and they will take a report that you can submit to your insurance company to get more stuff. That is where it will end because there will be no one free to do any investigation because they will be taking the same report from your neighbor. If that is the level of service you expect and want for your tax dollars you will be completely satisfied with what is to come.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

"Theoretically" the city has money to do a lot of things, but it is clear where their priorities lie. The way police department employees have been treated over the past few weeks is deplorable. It is unbelievable that the mayor and council can claim that they hold strong to values of taking care of "those less fortunate"(and demonstrate this by appointing $1.4 million to human services) while throwing their employees out into the street. Every single AAPD dispatcher comes into work every day and plays a vital role in keeping this community the safe place it has been. A number of them have done this for over 20 years. This consolidation effort can be better characterized as a scheme in which to avoid paying retirement benefits to dispatch employees. If this was such a mutually beneficial idea for the city and county why was it kept secret until the point all of the AAPD employees were given layoff notices? The assertion has also been made that the fate of four police officers lies solely in the hands of the union and that the union has been unwilling to compromise on cost sharing when it comes the health benefits. That could not be farther from the truth. The Ann Arbor Police Department used to source of pride for each of its employees. In the span of a few weeks every bit of this pride has been stripped away. The city has misrepresented its intentions to the union and misrepresented the truth the citizens. I am embarrassed by the way these hard working people have been used as chips in furthering the city's goals while placing the blame on them.

Ron Granger

Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 12:55 p.m.

I see TMazur covers it - 21 dispatch jobs lost to outsourcing? Wow! The police are so protected by their unions. You gotta envy that. Time and again, they somehow manage to protect those jobs under almost *any* circumstance. You hear about huge cuts at the state police... And again, somehow they keep those "for life" jobs. Do you know why? Because if they allow police cuts, and crime stays the same, or goes down, people will start asking hard questions.. Questions about the cost, about why we need so many cops, why don't they do traffic patrol in Priuses, etc. Since outsourcing seems to be fine with the AAPD and government, has anyone looked at outsourcing the Ann Arbor Police Department function to the University of Michigan Police Department? Maybe they could do it cheaper.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 3:16 p.m.

Yeah, it's always a good idea to pay those resposible for public security as little as possible. Maybe Red China can do it through Walmart.

Ron Granger

Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 12:43 p.m.

Will any dispatchers be laid off? It sounds like it, though I missed it if it was in the article. How much has the AAPD shrunk over the years in response to the dramatic (absurd?) expansion of the university police squad?


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

it has nothing to do with the expansion of DPS... UofM continues to acquire more property and has adjusted staffing levels accordingly


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 11:39 a.m.

Mr Crawford can't say how many dispatch employees will lost their jobs as a result of this? This press release they put together doesn't tell the whole story. 21 Ann Arbor dispatchers were given notice that as of January 1st, they will no longer have jobs. They can re-apply for a position with the county, but they will lose their seniority and banked time and IF they are hired, will be starting over from scratch at a much lower rate of pay, many of whom have close to 20 years of service. Meanwhile, the county will receive city tax dollars for contracted dispatch services and all the 911 fees that citizens pay and we're supposed to believe that the change will be cost-neutral for the county as stated by Sheriff Clayton? How stupid do these people think Ann Arbor taxpayers are? The county wouldn't be doing this if there wasn't a monetary advantage in it for them. And what might Ann Arbor get out of this--well, "theoretically" it MIGHT allow for 4 police officers jobs to be saved next budget year. It is deplorable that city council will approve $365,000 for new audio visual equipment while 21 people will lose their jobs in what amounts to outsourcing. If a local business would have done this to their workers, council would have spent hours passing a resolution about how shameful this is. Ironically, they have no problem doing it to their own employees.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 12:31 p.m.

I hope this consolidation goes better than the consolidation of AAPS, YPS, WRPS busing did -- many of the folks were not hired back -- it was quite a mess.


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 11:19 a.m.

No reaction from the unions invilved?


Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 11:21 a.m.



Thu, Jun 9, 2011 : 10:28 a.m.

I would recommend that this type of action become a priority for council. The action of cost savings and cost reduction needs to become a way of life, as it has been for many of us in private industry. I would also propose that council start a process where they create a budget that uses cost savings to build a contingency or rainy day fund versus automatically spending savings on new art or programs. This will allow some relief when the economy falters again or revenue does not meet projections.