Des Plaines leaders tour Wheeling's 911 center
Dispatchers answering calls from both towns
All 911 calls in Des Plaines are now being answered at a dispatch center in Wheeling -- a recent switch that both towns' leaders lauded Monday as mutually beneficial.
Officials from Des Plaines came to Wheeling Monday night for a welcoming ceremony and tour of Wheeling's 911 Communication Center, where dispatchers are now answering emergency calls for both towns.
Des Plaines' city council approved a five-year contract last June to outsource its police dispatch services to Wheeling as Des Plaines prepared to close its aging dispatch center. The switch-over took place Jan. 11 without any problems, officials said.
"It's not that often that are you able to save time, save money, and do better service," said Mayor Matt Bogusz.
Des Plaines officials have estimated the city will save $4.1 million over the course of the agreement. Major upgrades would have been necessary to modernize the old dispatch center, located on the second floor of city hall. Some of the problems include outdated equipment and computer systems.
The city handled its own dispatch calls and those from other municipalities for some 20 years until officials decided to decommission the center.
Wheeling, meanwhile, was looking to take on a customer after completing renovations to its police department headquarters in 2011, said Police Chief Bill Benson.
Des Plaines will pay Wheeling $12.1 million over the course of the agreement in operational and capital costs.
Eleven of the 13 dispatchers who remained when Des Plaines' center shut down have been hired by Wheeling. However, last summer as many as 22 employees worked in Des Plaines.
Des Plaines plans to expand its police records bureau within the dispatch center space in city hall, though the equipment in the center is still functional, and will be used as a "cold" backup center. That means it would be third in line to take 911 calls, after utilizing a "hot" backup center at the West Suburban Consolidated Dispatch Center in River Forest, according to Police Chief Bill Kushner.
Des Plaines fire emergency calls have been handled by the Regional Emergency Dispatch Center in Northbrook since last September. The council approved an agreement with the center, a consortium that dispatches for 16 fire departments, a year earlier.
All 911 calls in Des Plaines go to the Wheeling dispatch center, and fire-related calls are immediately directed to the RED Center.