With the goal of saving the financially-strapped City of Oakdale operational costs, City Manager Bryan Whitemyer has reached out to the City of Turlock regarding the idea of their police department to take over police dispatch services for Oakdale PD.
“We should always be looking for ways to provide best possible services while lowering our costs,” said Whitemyer. “I’ve spoken with the City of Turlock city manager about taking over our (police) dispatch, but only as a casual conversation.”
Whitemyer later said the “casual conversation” did include him furnishing Turlock staff members with facts and figures of Oakdale Police dispatch operations including the number of calls received and dispatched as well as the financial cost to the city.
In 2011, the Oakdale Police Department dispatched over 25,000 calls for service. The 2012-2013 budget for police dispatchers was $472,193.
The department has five full-time dispatchers that work around the clock to provide coverage for the city of 21,000, taking calls and assigning incidents throughout the city while being the communication lifeline to the 18-sworn department members in the field.
“I haven’t received any direction from the council to pursue this,” Whitemyer said. “I know there’s been discussion in the past, but we’re nowhere near that.”
In 2001, Oakdale contracted with Stanislaus Regional 911 for fire department dispatch duties. They later looked into the center taking over police dispatch duties. Presently, the 911 call center dispatches countywide law enforcement calls with the exception of the cities of Oakdale, Ceres and Turlock.
Chief Lester Jenkins was not available for comment at press time.
When contacted, Lieutenant Keri Redd stated there had been “nothing formal” discussed with the police department but she did know the city manager was looking to see if the cost would be less.
“It may show that we’re doing the right thing by having our own dispatch,” Redd said.
In addition to providing dispatch services for its own officers, Turlock PD also provides radio dispatching for the officers on campus of the Stanislaus State University Police Department. Between 2002 and 2012, Turlock also provided dispatch services for the 6,000 population – and only eight member department – of Gustine.
Due to the limited call volume of both Cal State Stanislaus and Gustine police departments, there was no necessity to add dispatchers to the Turlock Police Communications Center.
Gustine contracted with Livingston Police Department last year for dispatch duties after an anticipated increase by Turlock to the annual cost.
The query comes as the city is in the midst of its contract negotiations with the Oakdale Police Officers Association, which also represents the dispatchers.
“I don’t have all the details about it at this time,” said POA President Brian Shimmel on Thursday when contacted about the city manager’s proposition. “It’s too early for me to make a comment.”
“This is sort of a rumor going wild, right now,” Whitemyer said. “It’s too premature to tell what will happen.”