In a move that aids the Oakdale Police Department with increased staffing in its communications center, Chief Lester Jenkins announced the city will pursue providing dispatch services for the Newman Police Department.
The Oakdale Police currently have five full-time dispatchers along with one part-time dispatcher, who also provides records clerk duties. There is also one full-time and one part-time records clerk.
The Newman Police Department currently contracts with Stanislaus Regional 9-1-1 Communications Center for its dispatch services but has approached Oakdale PD about providing the communication duties for the 13-member department that patrols the city of just over 10,000.
According to Jenkins, Newman’s call volume is about 60 percent of Oakdale’s.
Chief Jenkins stated that after speaking to experts in the law enforcement radio and communications fields, it was determined that it would be feasible to provide contracted dispatch services to Newman.
The annual estimated cost for those dispatch and records services is approximately $186,000.
The additional money to the department would allow them to hire two additional full-time dispatchers, one additional clerk to cover the additional assignments and promote one dispatcher to dispatch supervisor to oversee the unit.
With the increased personnel, Oakdale dispatch would also be able to operate on three channels, adding one for tactical situations.
“The main benefit for Oakdale PD in this contract is that we would be increasing our depth of resources in the Dispatch Records Division,” said Jenkins. “The return of the dispatch supervisor will alleviate the workload of the police lieutenant tasked with administrative duties.”
Jenkins added that with the increased personnel it would also be easier to staff the dispatch center in the event that someone is sick or is injured.
The department suffered layoffs in 2007, slashing a dispatch supervisor, a secretary, and two community service officers from their ranks. Four officer positions were lost through attrition and the department now stands at 20 sworn due to other cuts.
The city’s proposal to Newman is a five-year contract with the last two years at a slight price increase to $191,580. Jenkins said the increase was to cover pay raises for those dispatchers that are not topped out on the pay scale.
“We’re not doing this to make money,” Jenkins said. “We charge for what it costs to provide these services, but we do get the benefits of additional people.”
Oakdale dispatchers communicate with officers on the street by radio and computer. The dispatchers field more than 130,000 calls for service annually.
Additionally, they handle numerous other duties that would otherwise require officers to return to the station such as warrants, missing persons and other teletypes or providing a safe refuge or contact point for victims of crime. At non-peak times they assist with clerical support.
Police clerks also assist with filing, answering phone calls, clerical duties, searching female prisoners and serving walkup customers in the police lobby.