Spokane Mayor David Condon has vetoed an ordinance passed by the City Council that would stop a countywide 911 integration by requiring city dispatchers to only work with city police and firefighters.
Condon called the ordinance a “complete overstep” and said personnel issues fall under the purview of the executive branch, not the council. He said the council’s unanimous vote to stop the integration may have created more uncertainty for employees who were scheduled to join the new Spokane Regional Emergency Communications Center when it goes live next year.
In an interview last week, SREC Director Steve Reinke said under the current system, call takers answer crime-check and 911 calls and transfer them to fire or police dispatchers. If the county integrates Sheriff’s Office dispatchers, 911 call takers and radio system employees but doesn’t include city police and fire dispatchers, the system will not change dramatically.
Reinke said fire stations that are contracted with the city for dispatch services may eventually switch to SREC, but 911 call takers would continue to transfer city of Spokane calls to city dispatchers.
City Council President Ben Stuckart said he already asked the clerk’s office to place the ordinance on Monday’s schedule for a potential veto-override vote and believes the ordinance, which specified who 911 dispatchers could work with and training requirements, is a legislative issue.
Condon said even if the council overrides his veto, he intends to go forward with integrating county and city 911 dispatchers. He said the council doesn’t have the authority to direct city employees and the city has already integrated other services, like animal shelters, with the county.
“We’re going to continue down this path,” he said.
Stuckart said the SREC board has not presented compelling evidence that response times would be shorter or costs would be lower with an integrated system. Still, he said he is open to integrating technology if dispatchers are still city employees.
Condon said council members have been involved in the integration process by sitting on various boards and the SREC board has tried to answer or clarify City Council members’ requests for budget or service-level information.
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