With cost-cutting a priority for the cash-strapped towns of Santa Clara County, the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno police force is considering merging its 911 emergency dispatch service with neighboring Campbell’s. The investigation into the feasibility of such a merger is a response to “Can You Hear Me Now,” a Santa Clara County Civil Grand Jury report that suggested that local municipalities consider consolidating their 911 services to save money.
According to Police Chief Scott Seaman, “Shortly after the first of the year, we’ll have the report that will identify costs, opportunities and challenges, along with cost savings.”
But the challenges could impede cost savings. While the two services cooperate regularly, they each use different equipment. There is also the number of calls per dispatcher. Campbell has eight fulltime and one part-time dispatchers, while Los Gatos-Monte Sereno has only seven fulltime and one part-time dispatchers, but they two locales have widely divergent emergency calls to respond to. Campbell receives an average of 16,000 calls per year, the highest in the county, while Los Gatos-Monte Sereno has just over half that, roughly 8,900.
Finally, there is the question of where the joint call center would be located. There are three available spaces at the Campbell center and two in the Los Gatos-Monte Sereno one.
Overcoming these obstacles could actually increase costs, at least at the outset of such a merger and impede such a process. “If there’s no savings I won’t want to do it,’ says Campbell Police Chief Greg Finch. They should know if there are savings sometime in January.