ROSELLE PARK, NJ — The mayor and council voted 5-0 with two abstentions to terminate the township’s five police dispatchers and enter into a shared-services agreement with Union County at their March 21 meeting.
Mayor Joseph Signorello said that using the county’s dispatch service would save about $200,000 annually for the township, which already is using the county dispatch services for EMS and fire.
According to the resolution, the agreement, which would take effect July 1, would “facilitate the continuity of operations between both parties, and the county will also provide ancillary services necessary for addressing emergency services, the creation of a shared services agreement by and among the parties for the purpose of undertaking the same would effectuate cost savings measures and improve efficiency for the provision of telecommunications services to dispatch police, fire and EMS vehicles and equipment in the borough or the immediate vicinity.”
Councilman at large Joseph DeIorio and 1st Ward Councilwoman Jayme Lynn Negron abstained from the vote, calling for more time to review the agreement.
“I am not opposing this shared services agreement, but I just want to be as tight as possible so we don’t get surprised some time in the future with an unexpected cost or situation,” DeIorio said.
“I’m all for this, I really am, but the only thing that is holding me back is that the public hasn’t had an opportunity to really say much about this,” Negron said at the meeting.
She then called for a motion to table the resolution until the next meeting; it was seconded by DeIorio, but then rejected by a 4-3 vote.
“I think timelines are very tight and I think that if we’re going to make July 1, we’re going to have to move sooner rather than later,” Signorello said.
“We have the support of the police chief and the PBA president who represents the township’s 34 officers,” Signorello added.
“This is a public safety issue and a contract negotiation, which we go into executive session specifically for,” the mayor said. “This is not a workshop-able thing.”
Police Chief Daniel McCaffrey spoke to the council at the meeting, expressing his support for the new arrangement.
“We’re not moving into a complete unknown. We’re moving into something that we’re familiar with and that has been working well,” he said.
McCaffrey said another benefit of the agreement is that the township won’t have to scramble to fill in when a dispatcher calls out sick or is off work.
“That’s a hardship that is put on the police department and it would be nice to have more officers on the ground,” he added.
Andrew Moran, director of public safety for Union County, said that the five laid off dispatchers will be given an opportunity to interview for the three county positions currently open.
“It’s an investment in the future,” Signorello said. “With this agreement, we are going to be leaner and more cost efficient.”