Legislator, law enforcement officials secure additional funding for dispatch center

By Ed Martin, Editor
Legislator, law enforcement officials secure additional funding for dispatch center
City of Lemoore officials have been talking about a police and fire dispatch center for several years, and now, thanks to the efforts of local law enforcement, Assemblymember Rudy Salas and Governor Jerry Brown, who signed the state budget this week, a dispatch center just may be closer to fruition.

Salas helped to secure $5 million for public safety infrastructure for Kings County in this year’s budget, something he said is sorely needed in cities like Lemoore, Avenal and Corcoran.

Lemoore’s share of the pot is $939,000, which could be used to help fund the dispatch center.

 “I have worked tirelessly with local law enforcement to secure vital funding resources for the Central Valley in the budget - and today with the Governor’s signature, we will finally see that funding delivered to our communities,” said Salas who has shepherded the legislation through the State Legislature.

“The $5 million for public safety infrastructure in Valley cities will enable law enforcement agencies to better serve the public and ultimately, keep us safe.”

Local law enforcement officials couldn’t agree more. “Assemblymember Salas understands the impacts that our law enforcement agencies will experience as a result of future growth and our commitment to serve our communities,” said Lemoore Chief of Police Darrell Smith.

“The tireless efforts of Assemblymember Salas and our coalition have resulted in much needed funding for infrastructure needs that will enhance our agencies abilities to better serve our public."

Corcoran and Avenal stand to benefit as well. Reuben Shortnacy, the Corcoran Police Chief, and a former Lemoore police officer, said public safety funding has always been at the top of his list.

“The need for public safety infrastructure improvements in Corcoran has been a priority for many years,” he said.

Back in 2013, the Lemoore City Council gave the go-ahead to seek funding and building a dispatch center in Lemoore. At the time, Cmdr. Steve Rossi told councilmembers a new dispatch center, to be constructed on the west side of the existing police department, could cost upwards of $1.2 million, most of the funding coming from safety grants and fire and police capital funds.

There was sticker shock added to the cost. Councilmembers learned that just blueprints could cost the city about $120,000.

The City of Lemoore currently pays the City of Hanford $400,000 a year for dispatch services.

Part of the overall cost of a new dispatch center includes the hiring of at least 10 dispatchers enabling the police department to man the operations center 24 hours a day.

In May of 2014 in an update to councilmembers, they were told the cost of a dispatch center would go up, possibly to $1.9 million, money that would build a stand-alone facility and provide the equipment and staff to man the dispatch center 24 hours per day.

“We’re already over budget from the original design,” said Chief Smith last year.

Smith also in 2014 dropped a bombshell on councilmembers when he revealed the ongoing costs for running the center, including the costs of at least 10 dispatchers and training, would add approximately $606,000 annually to the cost of the public safety budget. This project also addresses some needed site improvements to safety, security and access. The installation of automatic vehicle security gates, a radio communication tower and replacement of the existing army surplus emergency power generator with a new emergency generator with an automatic transfer switch would be included. The existing electrical infrastructure, transformer and existing switchgear will be utilized as much as possible to minimize costs.


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