Red Deer Council votes to keep RCMP, Emergency Services dispatches separate

Red Deer’s police and emergency services dispatches won’t merge any time soon, even though City Council recently put the services under one division.

But the developing protective services division may be asked to find efficiencies and ways the two can work work together.

After some debate, city council voted to maintain status quo with the city running its emergency services dispatch for fire and ambulance calls, while utilizing the Alberta RCMP’s Operational Communications Centre located in Red Deer.

“I think we’d be very remiss if we went ahead with the data we have,” said Coun. Lynn Mulder. “I think we have an opportunity when we get the protective services division up and running and we should wait until it is there.

“Keep them separate right now.”

During the city’s operational budget they created a new protective services division, which brings together police, fire, ambulance, security, emergency management and crime prevention into one organization. It’s expected to boost efficiency and give council a bigger say in setting local priorities.

Coun. Buck Buchanan would have preferred the city explore merging the dispatches as is practice in St. Albert and Sherwood Park. Last year he put forth a motion to explore consolidating the two separate dispatches.

“I’m on the side of service,” he said.

The consensus among those who supported keeping them separate was once the protective services division was up and running, it could then look at potential efficiencies including dispatch amalgamation.

Red Deer RCMP Superintendent Ken Foster talked about the pros and cons of consolidation. He said while dispatchers from the community are more knowledgeable about locations, addresses and people, there are potential cost increases and concerns about the training standard compared to the RCMP run dispatch.

Buchanan was joined by Dianne Wyntjes and Paul Harris in voting against the motion to maintain two separate dispatch services.

“I think we should build it (protective services) right,” said Wyntjes.

In May 2015, the city implemented a non-emergency call taking program, which diverted 49 per cent of calls to RCMP. According to a council report, the calls were sent to the appropriate places for response during operating hours and lightened the burden placed on the RCMP run dispatch.

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