Rosemont, the last suburban holdout, reluctantly agrees to consolidate 911 call center

After three years of fighting a state law aimed at consolidating 911 dispatch centers, Rosemont has reluctantly agreed to let a private call center handle its emergency calls.

The village is the last holdout in the suburbs - among towns with a population of less than 25,000 - to operate its own dispatch center, but the state law that took effect in 2016 compelled municipalities below that threshold to join with other towns. Deerfield, with its population of 18,225, completed its consolidation earlier this year.

Rosemont applied for a waiver from the state, arguing that despite being home to only 4,200 residents, its daytime population of business employees and visitors grows to as many as 100,000. The Illinois State Police Office of the Statewide 911 Administrator didn't buy that argument, and the matter eventually went to circuit court, only to be sent back to the administrator.

That led to the village board's approval Wednesday of an initial agreement with Elmhurst-based NORCOMM Public Safety Communications. The firm will take Rosemont's police and fire calls within its Proviso/Leyden call center, located at the Leyden Fire Protection District firehouse on Mannheim Road in Franklin Park.

"We're finally throwing in the towel," declared Mayor Brad Stephens, who said it could take until the end of the year to get additional state approvals and complete the transfer of operations.

Rosemont will pay $751,998 to NORCOMM in the first year of a multiyear deal, though the precise length of term is still being finalized. The village also will give the dispatch agency a one-time $50,000 fee to get started, and could pay equipment costs ranging from $50,000 to $175,000.

Stephens said the village is trying to make the transition cost neutral. Were the village to keep its 40,000-square-foot dispatch center within village hall on Devon Avenue, it would've faced up to $2 million in costs to upgrade antiquated equipment, officials said.

What becomes of the jobs of the existing dispatchers is still being determined, Stephens said. They could apply for jobs at NORCOMM, or some could be reassigned to other tasks within the village's public safety department, he said.

Even as the village makes preparations for its proposed public safety headquarters north of the Allstate Arena, 911 calls would still be answered by NORCOMM, whether the call center moves to the new building or stays at the Leyden firehouse, Stephens said.

Dispatchers for NORCOMM, which was established as Illinois' first private 911 call center in 1994, take calls for a number of communities south of Rosemont, including Melrose Park, Stone Park, Maywood and Bellwood.

Public Safety Department Superintendent Donald E. Stephens III said dispatchers will receive proper training before taking Rosemont's calls, which would include riding in squad cars to get a lay of the land.

"We're not in a rush to close our doors right away," he said.

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