‘One giant step closer’: Deal would create governing body for emergency dispatch consolidation in Lake County

A proposed agreement to establish an entity to oversee the long-sought consolidation of emergency dispatch services in Lake County has cleared a key hurdle.

Members of the Lake County Board’s law and judicial committee Tuesday recommended an agreement to create Lake Consolidated Emergency Communications, known as LakeComm, as the governing agency of a plan that has been in the works for several years.

In a separate but related matter, the committee also recommended establishing the new Emergency Telephone System Board by consolidating six existing agencies created to operate 911 systems. The board receives 911 surcharge funds and oversees the implementation and operation of those systems.

The steps did not come without debate as construction of the $54 million Regional Operations and Communications Center continues on Lake County’s government campus north and west of Milwaukee Avenue and Winchester Road in Libertyville.

  A new 911 dispatch center is being built just west of the Central Permit facility on the Lake County government campus, 500 W. Winchester Road. Joe Lewnard/

The financial and administrative committee will consider the same measures Thursday, and the full county board is expected to vote on them at its June 11 meeting.

A final roster and cost to each participating agency are among the issues to be determined in an effort that started as early as 2010 to eliminate transfers of emergency calls, which can cost valuable time.

County Administrator Patrice Sutton said Tuesday the initiatives will directly affect residents, business owners and visitors and has involved “unprecedented cooperation and collaboration among multiple villages, cities and districts within Lake County.”

She said consolidation has been a priority since 2017 with specifics getting more defined in 2019 and 2023.

“Approval of these IGAs (intergovernmental agreements) brings us one giant step closer to achieving this goal,” she said.

The Regional Operations and Communications Center will house partnering agencies, including Mundelein, Fox Lake, Gurnee, CenCom dispatch, Vernon Hills, Lake Zurich and Countryside Fire Protection District.

Seventeen entities have said they wish to become founding members and have until June 30 to do so, according to Sutton.

The communications center is expected to go live in July 2025, but exactly who will have seats inside is still being determined. All partner agencies will be dispatched from people working at the facility.

A big factor is a decision by the Lake County Sheriff’s Office and Waukegan police not to physically consolidate. The sheriff’s office said its dispatchers have a much higher level of minimum service and thus would either have to reduce provided operational services or increase costs to maintain them.

The agreement creating LakeComm says the sheriff’s office will be granted membership upon written request and none of the current or future requirements for admission of new members will apply.

A technology overhaul announced last month consolidated more than 15 systems used by more than 40 law enforcement and fire agencies into one but that is completely different from the dispatch center.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.