WASHINGTON — July 1 is the date the state-mandated consolidated Tazewell County emergency dispatch system will be operational.
With construction of a new dispatch center at the Morton Police Station not expected to be completed until next summer, dispatchers at the Washington Police Station will remain there until that time.
"We'll only have to make one move ... to Morton," Alderman Brian Butler said Monday at a Washington City Council meeting, recalling previous plans that called for Washington dispatchers to relocate somewhere temporarily before their permanent move to Morton.
Butler and Washington Assistant Police Chief Jeff Stevens are among those on the board of Tazewell County Consolidated Communications, which will oversee the new dispatch system.
Washington dispatchers who tested for positions with TCCC were hired by TCCC, which eventually will have dispatch centers in Morton and the Tazewell/Pekin Consolidated Communications Center in Pekin, also known as Tazcomm.
Dispatch centers at the Washington Police Station and East Peoria Police Station will close.
To continue dispatch service in Washington while the Morton dispatch center is being built, aldermen Monday approved two inter-governmental agreements.
TCCC will lease Washington's dispatch center for $500 per month and continue walk-up service for police station visitors by TCCC dispatchers, with the city paying TCCC $500 per month.
In another vote Monday, Washington aldermen agreed to pay $283,454 to TCCC for dispatch service from July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019.
After the dispatchers in Washington move to Morton, Washington will hire two full-time and five part-time police administrative specialists who will provide staffing at the police station from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.
Washington Police Chief Mike McCoy has said the administrative specialists will give walk-up service and do record-keeping and other tasks that will improve police officers' efficiency.
The front door to the Washington Police Station will remain open from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. daily. During those hours, visitors can use a phone that will connect to the Morton dispatch center.
Aldermen and Washington Mayor Gary Manier have expressed concerns about not having administrative specialists at the police station around the clock, but said they understand the costs of having 24-7 staffing.
"This consolidation has been a stressful process for us," Butler said. "We've done the best we can given the directions we've gotten from the state."
Also at Monday's council meeting, Washington Fire Chief Roger Traver reported his department responded to 149 calls in May including 122 for emergency medical services.
The Fire Department had responded to 715 calls this year through May, an increase of 17 percent from the 611 calls last year through May 2017.
McCoy said the Police Department had responded to 207 more calls and had 183 more officer-initiated contacts and 24 more positive interactions with the public this year through May compared to the same time frame in 2017.
Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.