NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University will provide the city’s police dispatching services in a move that New Brunswick says will cut costs and put an end to dispatcher shortages that resulted in officers doing the job.
The city’s 12 current dispatchers will be laid off at the end of the day on June 30, and Rutgers will supply dispatchers as of July 1 under an agreement that city council members approved Wednesday.
All 12 city dispatchers can apply to Rutgers to get jobs, and are expected to be hired if they pass health examinations and background checks, city Administrator Thomas Loughlin said at the council meeting.
Under the agreement, the city will pay Rutgers $362,103 to supply dispatchers for the remaining six months of the year. The city and the university will negotiate a contract for next year.
Loughlin said having Rutgers supply the service would reduce city costs, though he did not give an exact amount of the savings.
Instead, he noted that the city police department spent $1.3 million in 2017 for dispatchers’ salaries, benefits, pensions and overtime costs. That was more than twice the $362,103 that city will pay Rutgers for the next six months.
Dispatching and the 911 emergency communication system will remain at the city police department for several week,s until the operation is transferred to the university’s dispatch center on George Street in the city’s downtown.
Any current city dispatchers who pass the physical and background checks, Loughlin said, will “be working blocks away from where they work now. They’ll be in the same pension system.”
Police had difficultly keeping dispatchers, city officials said. After being hired and trained, dispatchers often found jobs with towns that were quieter and less stressful, officials said.
Because of dispatcher shortages, city police officers were brought in from their normal assignments to handle 911 calls and communications.