Not only is E-911 consolidation a state mandate, but it will be good for Lake County. It will integrate a variety of communication systems into one, allowing all emergency responders to communicate. Remember the blizzard several years ago that brought NWI to a standstill? Police couldn't communicate with each other.
Welcome to our live online chat with Times columnists Marc Chase and Rich James. They’ll be discussing the controversial issue of E-911 consolidation in Lake County, but are open to answering your questions on other issues as well. We will be starting the chat at 7 p.m., but before we begin, here are some links to some of the columns that Marc and Rich have written on the subject.
I agree that E-911 is a good concept in principle. I fully agree with the spirit of the law that created consolidation of the county's 17 dispatches into one facility. But the way the county is going about complying is horrendous. Five years in the making, they've come up with a plan that will cost $4 million more per year than we are paying now. That completely contradicts the spirit of consolidation and good government.
We have a question from one of our readers.
Largely because the different communication systems aren't all compatible.
Rich is right. It's a hodge-podge. The systems work well for their individual communities, but not when departments need to communicate with each other.
Unfortunately taxpayers and some public officials are being told at zero hour that we must pay tens of millions of dollars to Motorola for the best equipment -- in a no-bid contract -- rather than seekin bids for a better deal.
The cost is a point of controversy. St. John and those who want to form their own system argue that the just one system will be more expensive. It isn't conceivable that having two systems in the county will be cheaper. That is a duplication of sevices and personnel. Rich James
No community in Lake County should be OK with spending a collective $4 million more per year than what is now being spent. I don't agree with the St. John folks and other communities splitering what is supposed to be one system into two. But we need some more sanity to factor into the equation. If the threat of St. John and others going their own way forces those discussions, than so be it.
Taxpayer makes a good point. The county has not exactly shown a history of fiscally sound policy. That makes it extraordinarily difficult for people to trust them with such an undertaking.
This wouldn't be a county government operation but would be overseen by a board of folks from across the county. And, given the demands on Lake County government, I think they do a pretty good job. Rich James
Motorola made it to that preferred state list years ago. That status gets renewed every year, but not with any sort of concerted competetive bid for the renewal. Putting it out to bid would very likely bring a better price for Lake County -- even if Motorola ends up winning the bid.
Motorola already has been cleared by the state and is preferred by the law enforcement folks in Lake County. However, I agree that bids should be taken on the equipment, even if it means missing the late 2014 deadline. Rich James
See. Rich and I don't disgree on everything. I can put my brass knuckles away now.
It isn't racist to seek a better price. It isn't predjudicial to seek a better deal. I agree.
I tell your Hank, this is not a ploy for north county to rip off the south county communities.
Lots of other counties have gotten this right over the years. Don't hold your breath here.