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Oct 22

Modesto Explores Delivery Changes for 9-1-1 Dispatch Services

Posted on October 22, 2021 at 9:20 AM by Marc Garcia

For years, the City has prioritized evaluating and assessing the programs and services provided to our community. We continuously work to find efficiencies that improve existing programs and increase services to taxpayers. As a result, the City has modernized many programs in recent years, such as a revamped city-wide blight abatement program, enhanced construction permitting process, and creative approaches to address homelessness - to name a few.

With increased demand and interest to reform public safety response models, the City is committed to providing police and emergency response services that meet the community's needs now and into the future. As a city, we have prioritized evaluating, modifying, and expanding programs that support our public safety responses and model best practices.

This includes the recent creation of the Forward Together initiative, the regionalization of fire services and the Fire Department's EMS program, additional public health initiatives, the expansion of our Real Time Crime Center, and mental health response programs. Less thought about is the important role public safety communications play in bringing these initiatives together.

Since 1999, the City of Modesto has successfully operated in formal partnership with Stanislaus County to provide 9-1-1 communication services. This partnership has been an effective regional model since its inception. The current dispatch services provided by the dedicated staff at the communication center who have worked diligently alongside our first responders have been a tremendous asset to our community. However, with the changing policing landscape in our community and across the country, alternate response models are necessary, beginning with that initial 9-1-1 call.

Therefore, to explore additional financial, operational, and innovative opportunities within this critical function, the City believes evaluating options beyond our current formal partnership with the County is necessary. On Tuesday, October 12, 2021, Modesto City Council approved a Resolution to notify Stanislaus County regarding the City's intent to end the Joint Powers Authority (JPA) agreement for Emergency Dispatch Services. By giving notice now, the study can begin sooner, giving sufficient time to implement the necessary changes without further delay.

This change will not take effect until January 1, 2024, giving the City of Modesto more than two years to explore enhanced service models while providing the Consolidated Emergency Dispatch Agency Commission proper notice as outlined in the JPA.

While we move through this process, the City is committed to exploring all aspects of public safety communication service delivery, including future partnerships with Stanislaus County and other member agencies. Different solutions will be considered to ensure the community receives the highest service standards without compromising on safety or cost.  Our goal is to implement a more flexible and innovative program using the latest technology and industry best practices that meet the City's unique 9-1-1 response needs well into the future. Further, integrating 9-1-1 dispatch into our Real Time Crime Center could be the first step toward streamlining public safety responses making our community even safer. 

Regardless of the model, the City's primary goal is to ensure a seamless transition of public safety communications that furthers the positive efforts accomplished in the past.  Our intention in making a change is to streamline services and is in no way meant to convey a negative reflection on the current dispatch services or the dedicated staff who continue to work diligently alongside our first responders.  While the partnership may take a new shape, we acknowledge that some form of collaboration will still be necessary.  However, it is time to develop the next chapter of 9-1-1 services to our community.

As we make progress toward finalizing any changes in the City's 9-1-1 services, we will share updates along the way.