Last year Governor Rauner signed a law which mandated that by July 1, 2017, any 911 dispatch center in Cook County must consolidate to serve a population of more than 25,000. As a small community, Northfield was impacted by this legislation as well as some of our neighbors including Glencoe, Kenilworth, and Winnetka.
These communities along with Northfield agreed to research and evaluate options together to determine the best alternative for our communities. Currently our four communities share a common Police radio frequency, so working together to explore alternative dispatch options was essential.
All four communities wanted to make sure that we had carefully evaluated the service, safety, staffing, technology, and cost implications of our alternative dispatch options. Our 911 dispatch centers are an essential part of our emergency response systems and all communities agreed to move forward with a plan that meets the long-term needs of our residents and our first responders.
To assist us with this work, the four communities hired the Matrix Consulting Group, which specializes in public safety and emergency communication consulting services and has assisted over 500 police and fire departments across the country with similar initiatives.
The Matrix Consulting Group study involved five months of evaluation and reporting covering areas such as: activity and call volume, ancillary work tasks, staffing needs, capital needs, connectivity, and financial impact. This in-depth study resulted in a recommendation for all four of our communities to enter into a contract for dispatch services with the Village of Glenview.
Matrix Consulting Group gave several reasons for their recommendation, including that Glenview has a proven track record for professional service, experience with dispatch consolidation, success with prior dispatch consolidation, have capacity without becoming oversized, a fully redundant back-up center in Highland Park, and lower cost.
The Villages of Glencoe, Kenilworth, Northfield, and Winnetka have decided to follow this recommendation, and each community’s Village Boards have signed the intergovernmental agreement with Glenview and had a smooth transition on June 6, 2017.
Call 911 immediately if:
• You are witnessing an in-progress crime
• You fear for your life or safety, or for that of another
• You believe there is an imminent threat to property
• You need medical or fire assistance
• You aren’t sure if your situation is an emergency, you should err on the side of safety and call 9-1-1 and let the expert who answers your call make the decision if your situation is an emergency.
Q: Why am I asked for my location when I call 9-1-1? Doesn’t the 9-1-1 Center know where I am?
A: When calling, the Telecommunicator will ask the location where the incident is occurring including what town you are calling from. It is very important to know where you are and/or where the incident is occurring. If you do not know the exact street address, the next best location is the closest intersection. Unless you are calling 9-1-1 from your home phone there is a good chance the 9-1-1 center doesn’t have your exact location.
Q: Why am I asked so many questions by the 9-1-1 Telecommunicator, doesn’t this delay the response to my emergency?
A: The Telecommunicator may ask you questions that you believe are irrelevant. Trust in the Telecommunicator’s training and experience, and they will guide you through the information the police and fire departments need to get you the quickest and most helpful response. There are multiple Telecommunicators working in the 9-1-1 center, so when you are being asked questions there is someone else actually dispatching the police and or fire units reading the information from a computer screen that shows the information you are providing to the person you are talking to on the phone and then it is relayed to the responding units..
Q: Does Northfield have 3-1-1 for non-emergency?
A: All non-emergency matters can be directed to Northfield’s non-emergency telephone numbers (see below). Please be advised that 311 is only for the City of Chicago and the City of Evanston.
Q: Why does the 9-1-1 Telecommunicator want me to stay on the phone when I misdial or change my mind about dialing 9-1-1?
A: Never just hang up. You may have called 9-1-1 by accident, or your situation may have resolved itself, but it is important to let the 9-1-1 Telecommunicator know this. If you end the call abruptly, the Telecommunicators at the 9-1-1 center are going to assume that something has gone wrong and will either call your back or send help anyway. This will take away from the 9-1-1 center’s ability to take calls and dispatch services to on-going emergencies, so make sure the 9-1-1 call taker tells you it is ok to disconnect before you hang up. And keep in mind that the call taker can dispatch responders to your location without disconnecting from the call, so, until you are instructed to do otherwise, make sure to hold the line so that you can provide any necessary information or assistance to the 9-1-1 operator.
Q: Will Northfield Police Officers still respond to my home and patrol our streets 24-hours per day?
A: Yes. Nothing will change with regard to police response. If a citizen requests a police response in the Village of Northfield, a Northfield Police Officer will continue to respond.
Q: If I call, will the consolidated dispatching center slow down the response rates for police and fire?
A: No. Calls are routed in the same manner.
Q: Who answers the 24-7 non-emergency phone calls to the existing Northfield Dispatch Center (847-446-2131 and 847-446-2134)?
A: Northfield Police Department administrative personnel answer the administrative phones and are available for walk in guests at the police front desk Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. An auto-attendant allows callers to be directed to Glenview dispatch by pressing “1”. A new ten-digit emergency number for Northfield has been assigned. That number is 847-724-4010.
Q: Who will assist me at the Police front counter outside the business hours of Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.?
A: All other hours will be handled by consolidated dispatch. Beginning this fall, a kiosk with a television monitor will connect any party in the Police lobby with a live dispatcher. The dispatcher on the monitor will have the ability to provide assistance or be able to dispatch a Northfield Police Officer to provide assistance.
Q: Would the front door to the Police Department be locked when the television monitor service is operating? If so, what if I feel threatened and would like to enter the building?
A: The Police Department Lobby will remain unlocked. If the visitor is experiencing an emergency or immediate threat, Glenview dispatchers will be able to activate the police doors to provide safety while dispatch sends a Northfield Police Officer. The dispatcher will be able to observe the lobby via video feed.
Q: How will the Fire Department dispatching be affected by consolidation?
A: No change. Calls will be routed the same way they are today and services will still be provided by the Northfield Fire Department.
Q: Are there advantages to Consolidating Dispatch other than saving money?
A: Yes. At the Consolidated Dispatch Center there will be a call taker and a dispatcher to help expedite dispatch efforts and more effectively handle emergency situations. Additionally, the Consolidated Dispatch Center includes built-in redundancy in case of a catastrophic event affecting the facility. Currently, if the Village Hall Building were damaged in a natural disaster, the Village could not function fully in dispatch services. Having a fully redundant dispatch center in Highland Park provides an extra level of back-up to keep emergency communications operational should the need arise.
Q: Have other communities been successful with consolidated services?
A: Yes. In addition to their own residents, the Village of Glenview currently dispatches police services for Grayslake, Hainesville, Niles, Morton Grove, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, and Highwood.