BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ – The township is considering a shared services agreement with Union County to provide dispatch services for first responders.

In a presentation to the Township Council at their September 24 meeting, Berkeley Heights Police Chief John DiPasquale explained the agreement and how it would benefit the township and its residents.

“The Union County Regional Communications Center would be the primary answering and dispatch point for all requests for service from police, fire, and EMS,” DiPasquale said. “The current ten-digit non-emergency telephone number for Berkeley Heights police would be answered at the county communications center, for anyone wishing to speak to a dispatcher.”

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The county would charge the township $150,000 to use its dispatch services for the year 2020, with a 2% annual increase in the fee every year. Utilizing the county’s dispatch center would save the township $168,000 in annual costs, DiPasquale said.

DiPasquale said he considered multiple options for dispatch services, including retaining the services in the township’s new police headquarters and outsourcing to Mountain Valley Dispatch Center in New Providence. He said partnering with the county would be more cost-effective than both of these options.

After receiving a presentation from the county explaining their dispatch services, DiPasquale knew that partnering with them would be the best option.

“The way they’re doing things [is] quite professional in terms of the quality of service,” DiPasquale said. He noted several technology benefits of the county’s operations, including shorter response times, a GPS system, real-time monitoring of all call processing times. He said the county also maintains a backup dispatch center with the same systems in place.

Other benefits DiPasquale discussed include multiple dispatchers working all shifts, monthly statistics for fire and EMS calls, and decreased liability for the township. “It’s clear to me that it is an efficient way to do business,” DiPasquale said.

Twelve additional municipalities, including Scotch Plains, Springfield, and Mountainside, currently partner with the county for dispatch services. DiPasquale said he spoke to several other police chiefs in the county who use the county’s services and “heard nothing but positive feedback.”

After the presentation, county Public Safety Director Andrew Moran thanked the mayor, council, and chief for considering this partnership.

“We are very proud of our dispatch operation that we have in the county,” Moran said. “I think we provide a high level of service to the towns we dispatch for.”

Mayor Angie Devanney, who recently toured the county’s dispatch center along with council members, expressed her thanks to Moran and the county for providing the dispatch service.

“I was impressed, as somebody who’s never been to dispatch,” Devanney said. “I was incredibly impressed with the operations. So, we thank you for that as well, and we look forward to taking the next steps.”