Roselle Park may fire dispatchers, switch to county provided service

ROSELLE PARK, NJ — The mayor and council will vote Thursday, March 21, on whether to fire the township’s five police dispatchers and enter into a shared services agreement with the county.

Mayor Joseph Signorello said in a March 17 phone interview with LocalSource that using the county’s dispatch service would save about $200,000 annually for the township, which is already using the county dispatch services for EMS and fire.

According to the resolution before the council, the agreement 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.”

Signorello said that, although there tends to be a 4-3 split along party lines, with Republicans Joseph DeIorio, William Fahoury and Jayme Lynn Negron often voting together and Democrats Robert Matheu, Joseph Petrosky, Michael Connelly and Signorello voting together, he anticipates “more bipartisan support” for this resolution than others.

Signorello said “some voices” are calling for the resolution to be “analyzed more,” but he expects it to be adopted.
A message left for Fahoury on March 17 seeking comment about the resolution was not returned.
The plan to switch to the county dispatch services has the support of police Chief Daniel McCaffrey.

“From a law enforcement perspective, we determined this would be sound for us,” he said. “In other words, it’s a good product that they’re offering, something that could work well with what we’re offering. The county has better infrastructure than we do. They have more resources than we do and their training program is more extensive than we could offer.”

McCaffrey said another advantage of the shared service model is that the township won’t have to scramble to fill in when a dispatcher calls out sick or is off work.

“We used to have to have an officer cover if a dispatcher was out,” he said.
Signorello said the township would realize about $325,000 in savings by laying off the five dispatchers, but would owe the county about $150,000 per year for the service.

According to the resolution, the agreement will take effect July 1. Signorello said the township has been happy with the shared services agreements it has with the county to provide dispatch service for its fire and EMS departments.

“The county uses really advanced mapping technology and actually employs some former Roselle Park dispatchers,” Signorello said. “I think there’s some knowledge base of Roselle Park there already. I think, when you think about some of the services they offer in terms of framing, technology and also, they’re much more equipped in a disaster scenario. If we lost power in the state of New Jersey, they have generators and retention facilities that can last much longer than we can in Roselle Park.

“So I think, given some of the services they have, I feel very comfortable with the ability for them to respond and act in a crisis. There are obviously pluses and minuses with regards to using your own dispatchers, but we use county dispatchers for fire and EMS already.”