NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - City police dispatchers handle a hefty stream of call for help.
There are so many calls, city officials say, that once a dispatcher is trained, they then find less demanding jobs in municipalities that are not so busy.
Finding dispatchers to fill all the shifts has become so difficult in New Brunswick that city officials plan to hire an outside agency to handle the duties. City leaders expect that agency to be providing the service as of July 1.
Currently, New Brunswick has 10 dispatchers, with two others out on disability leave, city administrator Thomas Loughlin said at the city council Wednesday.
City council members agreed in April to hire another agency, either a private company or another police department, to handle dispatching duties. The move was also expected to cut costs to the city.
Council members Wednesday rejected two bids from agencies that sought the contract, one from a Princeton-based company the exceeded the city’s proposed budget of $45,000 for the calendar year, and one from Rutgers University because it failed to submit required documentation, according to city officials.
Loughlin, while declining to release details, said he expects to recommend an agency to handle the job when the council meets on June 20. He said Rutgers might still be considered for the contract.
He said the city expects current dispatchers will be offered jobs at the new agency and that the staff would still work out of the New Brunswick police dispatch center.
“The plan is that they will be employed,” Loughlin said. "We are going to save the city some money and have these people land some place,” he said.
So dire are the staffing shortages that city police officers have been pulled off other duties to handle dispatching duties, the administrator said.
“We have had a very difficult time keeping people employed. They train here and often go to quieter towns,” Loughlin said.
The city expects that the dispatchers last day as city employees will be June 30.