Swampscott police union questions dispatch partnership with Salem

SWAMPSCOTT – The local police union has unanswered questions about a proposal to enter into a short term contract with Salem for 911 emergency dispatch.Massachusetts Coalition of Police Local #417 President Sgt. Joe Kable said the union, which has 31 members, met this week to discuss the options Town Administrator Andrew Maylor presented to the selectmen earlier this month.?We appreciate the fact the selectmen directed him (Maylor) to go back and take a look at other options,” Kable said. “We also appreciate the fact that Maylor has done so with an open mind after expressing his feelings that after five years of work on the subject, he was confident that Middleton was the best deal for the town.”Kable said the dispatch option with Salem is cheaper than the proposed Middleton dispatch, but union members are not convinced it is the best option for the town.?The Salem option is cheaper than the regional 911 dispatch that was being proposed in Middleton, but we think there may be other options,” he said.Kable said the 31 union members are also concerned about possible layoffs even though town officials said outsourcing dispatch would not affect staffing levels in the police department.?It’s hard in this fiscal climate to believe the town can take on an additional financial burden of $685,000 over 10 years and have it not affect staffing levels,” Kable said.Selectman Richard Malagrifa said the proposal Maylor presented to the selectmen was preliminary.?The numbers were very preliminary and not set in stone,” Malagrifa said. “I don’t know where the money will come to pay for this. It’s possible that as officers retire positions won’t be backfilled. It’s too early to speculate.”Maylor said a regional dispatch agreement would not force layoffs.?There are no layoffs being attributed to this relationship (with Salem),” Maylor said. “But every time a position opens up in town, we have an obligation to decide if it is necessary to fill it.”Kable said the Salem proposal will cost less than the Essex County Regional Dispatch.?At first blush it looks like Essex County Regional Dispatch would cost the town much more than what Salem would cost,” Kable said. “But what I haven’t heard discussed are other costs associated with regionalization.”Kable added if the town contracts out dispatch services, grant money will be lost.?Every town that handles its own dispatch received $30,000 a year in funding,” Kable said. “If Salem handles our dispatch that money will go to Salem.”Maylor said much of the $30,000 the town receives in grants is used for overtime and to pay matrons for female detainees.?Salem would house our prisoners overnight,” Maylor said. “That is $12,000 a year we will not have to pay for matrons. Salem will handle feeding and medical care for our prisoners. That is value added.”Maylor said when all is said and done, he expects the agreement with Salem to cost the town approximately $22,500 a year.?According to information provided by the police department, an officer on the desk spends 20 percent of their time on dispatch,” he said. “We have an officer on the desk 24 hours a day seven days a week. By outsourcing dispatch we will have that officer spend 20 percent more of his time on police work. There is a value associated with that.”Kable added the union has a one year contract with the town, which expires June 30. He pointed out the contact contains $16,000 in provisional concessions the union made, which the town would have to give back if it regionalizes dispatch.?That’s $46,000 a year that regional dispatch will cost the town,” Kable said. “That’s above whatever amount we pay to Salem for dispatch. The town needs to look at this contract and decide what’s best in terms of public safety and financially.”Selectman Jill Sullivan said Maylor is expected to present additional details regarding the proposed agreement in within the next couple of months.?Our goal with all our regionalization efforts is to provide the best possible servic

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