Antioch to lose $845,000 annual police dispatch contract with Brentwood

By John Crowder

Last night, November 12, 2014, the Brentwood City Council voted unanimously to terminate their $845,000 per year contract with the City of Antioch for police dispatch services, and to set up their own dispatch center within the next 18 to 24 months.

In a report given to the council, Brentwood Chief of Police Mark Evenson first spoke about the relationship between the two cities. He noted that Antioch had been providing dispatch services to Brentwood for over 20 years.

I want to publicly recognize the fantastic work that the Antioch Police Department staff has done,” he said. “They have been doing a fantastic job with limited resources for a long time.”

But, he also said, the system has become strained because of increasing demands, and that Antioch did not have the resources, “either financially or from personnel to adequately address those things.”

These increasing demands on them have compromised services to our citizens here in Brentwood,” he added.

Evenson then noted that Brentwood has been planning to create their own dispatch center for a long time. He went on to say that some of the reasons for the current problems involved with contracting police dispatch services to Antioch included population growth, increasing calls for service, and an increase in “part one crimes.”

Evenson next spoke about several issues of concern with the current contract. These included the quality of 911 services, which he said was being compromised, staffing levels in the dispatch center, and police officer efficiency and safety.

Evenson also noted that, in a recent incident, a Brentwood resident called 911, and the dispatch center did not answer the call. He said that Brentwood residents have increasingly reported being placed on hold for long periods of time and that it was even true of residents calling the non-emergency number. He also mentioned that incidents of rudeness by 911 operators had been reported.

During public comments, one woman who spoke to the council said that Antioch dispatch had dropped “at least a dozen of my phone calls” in the last year. “Numerous times, I have dialed eight or nine times,” before being able to get through, she said.

We can provide far better service than the city of Antioch,” she concluded.

During council discussions, all the comments were fairly consistent, focusing on the safety of residents in Brentwood, and lamenting that, because of the situation with respect to increased crime that Antioch finds itself in, residents of Brentwood are, and will continue to be, negatively impacted as long as the ties with Antioch dispatch remain.

Some time ago they took their eye off the ball with public safety, and they really can’t catch up, and we’re really in the same position now if we take our eye off public safety,” Council Member Erick Stonebarger said. “In 20 years we’re not going to be able to catch up.”

Councilman Steve Barr said, “The Antioch dispatch center is pretty much overrun with calls, and our residents aren’t really getting the service they deserve.”

Vice Mayor Joel Bryant chimed in, “Public safety is the linchpin that determines what direction the community is going to go.” He also said that he, personally, has had problems with service from Antioch dispatch.

Public safety is probably number one in our city,” Mayor Bob Taylor said. “Our city demands, and should get, total safety.”

Following council comments, a motion was made and seconded to proceed with the establishment of a dedicated Brentwood dispatch center, and it was passed on a 5-0 vote.

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