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 the Village of Northfield agreed to research and evaluate options together to determine the best alternative for our communities. Currently our four communities share a common 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 needs of our residents and our first responder’s long term.
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 are working together in order to ensure a smooth transition by the July 1, 2017 date cited in the law.
Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the transition. Please contact Police Chief William Lustig at 847-446-2131 with additional questions.
Q: Will Northfield Police Officers still respond to my home and patrol our streets 24-hours per day after dispatch services are consolidated?
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 respond as they currently do.
Q: If I call, will the consolidated dispatching center slow down the response rates for police and fire?
A: No. Calls will be routed the same way they are today.
Q: Who will answer 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 will answer the administrative phones and be 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 will allow 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. 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 un-locked. If the visitor is experiencing an emergency or immediate threat, they 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.