Metro-East News

O’Fallon, Fairview Heights move forward with joint police dispatch center

O’Fallon Public Safety telecommunicator Carmen Kuhl clocks extra miles on the department’s stationary bicycle while working her shift in this April 2016 file photo.
O’Fallon Public Safety telecommunicator Carmen Kuhl clocks extra miles on the department’s stationary bicycle while working her shift in this April 2016 file photo. rkirsch@bnd.com

The O’Fallon City Council on Monday night approved an intergovernmental agreement with Fairview Heights to establish an O’Fallon-Fairview Heights Communications Center.

Under a state mandate, St. Clair and Madison counties must reduce the number of its public safety answering points, or PSAPs, in half. St. Clair County will be going from eight PSAP’s to four.

Under St. Clair County’s plan submitted in April, CENCOM, operated by the county, Belleville, East St. Louis and O’Fallon would keep their PSAPs.

The 16-page agreement between O’Fallon and Fairview Heights will be effective Jan. 1. The objectives outlined in the agreement include:

▪  Saving lives by improving call processing time which reduces response time to emergency incidents

▪  Effectively receiving calls for routine and emergency assistance based on structured call intake protocols and coordinate response resources to those calls for service based on the needs of the caller and the direction of field response agencies

▪  Providing all participating municipalities with a single contact point for the notification of emergencies and receipt of emergency assistance requests, and for the control of coordinated dispatch for law enforcement, fire, and EMS

▪  Providing the public and field response agencies with highly trained, certified, and/or credentialed 9-1-1 employees who strive to provide the best service possible to everyone

The O’Fallon Public Safety Committee, which met Oct. 10, recommended the council approve the agreement.

According to the minutes from the committee meeting, O’Fallon Police Chief Eric Van Hook and Fairview Heights Police Chief Nick Galius met with St. Clair County Sheriff Rick Watson and determined that since Fairview Heights and O’Fallon run very similar, and based on their close proximity, it made sense to merge the PSAPs.

“Those two departments coming together is a perfect fit,” Watson said. “I’m happy for both of them. I think it will help both of their communities.”

It’s a win-win for the taxpayer. It’s really a win-win for anybody who has a 911 emergency. It might save your life.

O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham

O’Fallon appropriated $250,000 in June to equip the new center and update the current building.

Capt. James Cavins with the O’Fallon Police Department said renovations of the communications center are currently underway, and he expects the work to be complete by Nov. 1.

During the renovation, Cavins said some telecommunicators have been relocated to a conference room.

The new expanded center will be able to accommodate up to six telecommunicators, according to Cavins.

“We can electronically control the Fairview Heights Police Center by opening garage doors for them,” he said. “Everything we can do in our own structure, we can do in the Fairview Heights Police Department.”

According to the agreement, O’Fallon will cover 55 percent of the cost to operate the center, and Fairview Heights will cover 45 percent. This cost breakdown was determined by the number of calls each city receives.

“It’s a win-win for the taxpayer,” O’Fallon Mayor Gary Graham said. “It’s really a win-win for anybody who has a 911 emergency. It might save your life.”

The agreement also states the individuals employed as telecommunicators in a full-time position in Fairview Heights would be offered the opportunity to be hired as full-time telecommunicators with O’Fallon as a part of the 911 consolidation process.

O’Fallon employs 11 full-time equivalent employees at its dispatch center and Fairview Heights has six, according to the feasibility study done.

The $24,000 cost of the study was split between the two cities.

Fairview Heights will transfer all its communication assets to O’Fallon, according to the agreement. O’Fallon currently provides dispatching services for the village of Shiloh.

The Fairview Heights City Council was expected to vote on the intergovernmental agreement during its meeting on Tuesday night.

In other business, the council approved:

▪  A subdivision of land near the Frieze Harley Davidson located at 1560 North Green Mount Road. The Frieze Harley Davidson dealership now consists of one lot (approximately 8.60 acres in size) and the second lot (which is vacant land) is 5.08 acres. The 5.08-acre piece of land may be sold for the future development.

▪  A subdivision of land at 121 Central Drive, having approximately 0.61 acres. One lot will now consist of 0.34 acres (14,810 square feet) with the existing single-family residence and the second lot will consist of 0.27 acres (11,761 square feet), where a new single family residence could be constructed.

▪  A special event permit for a pumpkin patch stand through Oct. 31 at 1250 N. Lincoln Ave.

The council also approved a first reading for the redevelopment of a BP gas station to be located at 720 S. Lincoln Ave. and the development of “The Enclave at Augusta Greens” subdivision.

The applicant, Mike Drummonds for STL Eco Energy & Electric, has filed an application requesting 0.66 acres of land be rezoned from B-1, Community Business District to B-1(P), Planned Community Business District for the proposed redevelopment of the existing BP gas station. The project would include demolishing the existing convenience store and reconstructing a new 4,173-square-foot convenience market and the future installation of two additional gas pumps.

The Augusta Greens and The Enclave at Augusta Greens are part of the same subdivision proposed to be located on nearly 65 acres of property at the northeast corner of Old Collinsville Road and Milburn School Road. The preliminary plat for the August Greens includes 117 single family lots, and The Enclave at Augusta Greens preliminary plat includes 39 single family building pads.

Both items approved on first reading will need a second reading before the city council.

Jamie Forsythe: 618-239-2562, @BND_JForsythe

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