Barrington 'excited' about planned switch of 911 provider

  • The Barrington Public Safety Building houses the fire and police departments, but its 911 dispatch service has been handled by Round Lake Beach-based CenCom. The village plans to switch to Northwest Central Dispatch, which is based in Arlington Heights.

    The Barrington Public Safety Building houses the fire and police departments, but its 911 dispatch service has been handled by Round Lake Beach-based CenCom. The village plans to switch to Northwest Central Dispatch, which is based in Arlington Heights. Daily Herald file photo

 
 
Updated 10/27/2021 11:00 AM

Barrington plans to join Northwest Central Dispatch System, which provides 911 services to its neighboring communities, in a move that will be beneficial to the village, officials said.

The agreement with Northwest Central Dispatch System was approved by the village board Monday.

 

The move also will entail state approval for Barrington to join a different 911 board, the NWCD Emergency Telephone Systems Board.

"We've already begun the process," Police Chief Dave Dorn said. "I don't anticipate any issues."

The village's yearly contract with its current emergency dispatch system, CenCom, is $340,000. The contract with Northwest Central Dispatch is $330,000, village spokeswoman Patty Dowd Schmitz said.

"We will also see a significant cost savings down the line as well in services and contracts such as radio infrastructure, emergency communications and so on. The move also improves our emergency response capabilities by utilizing our neighboring towns more quickly," Dowd Schmitz said.

Barrington has used CenCom for more than 20 years, Dorn said. About a year ago, the police and fire departments began looking into switching to a new provider, and after vetting three of them, the selection landed on Northwest Central Dispatch, he said.

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"We are excited about it. For us and for our citizens, it's a huge deal, because we will be sharing a radio frequency with our neighbors," he said, pointing to Palatine and Inverness.

The switch is expected to take place by June 1 after extensive testing and going live behind the scenes, Dorn said.

Northwest Central Dispatch's member departments are: police and fire in Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove, Hoffman Estates, Palatine, Mount Prospect, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg and Streamwood; and police in Inverness and Prospect Heights. Contract departments are Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District and Palatine Rural Fire Protection District.

Having so many agencies share the dispatch system means faster, more efficient communication, said Northwest Central Dispatch System Executive Director John Ferraro. "We are really excited for them (Barrington) to come aboard," he said. "Chief Dorn and (Fire) Chief (John) Christian have been a pleasure to deal with."

The partnership will bring a lot of operational benefits, Ferraro said.

For example, if the Barrington Fire Department responds to a fire, there can be quick communication with its neighboring Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District, he said. Or if Palatine reports a missing person headed north, dispatch can immediately alert Barrington, instead of calling another dispatch center to do that, he said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Aside from Barrington, CenCom includes Antioch police and fire, the Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District and police in Round Lake, Round Lake Beach, Round Lake Heights and Round Lake Park.

Northwest Central Dispatch has a yearly total budget of about $17 million, and its funding includes the $1.50 surcharge for 911 services found on cellphone and landline bills.

"We're kind of a model for shared government services," Ferraro said. "We create a budget, and that budget has to be paid for by our members, so splitting that among 12 members instead of 11 members helps everybody."

Barrington also will be looking into joining the Northwest Central Joint Emergency Management System in 2022, pending budget approval, Dorn said.

The Joint Emergency Management System provides shared services for its participating communities, responding to things like natural disasters, terror attacks and the COVID-19 pandemic.

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