Metro-East News

Swansea, Belleville complete 911 answering point merger

Emergency phone calls in Swansea are now being answered in Belleville.

The Swansea Police Department on Wednesday posted on Facebook the transition to Belleville had been completed. Swansea has to have its 911 calls answered by another agency as part of a state-mandated consolidation of public safety answering points.

The number of PSAPs in St. Clair County had to be reduced from eight to four. O’Fallon and Fairview Heights combined their 911 call centers. The Cahokia and Centreville PSAPs both had the county-owned CENCOM pick up its 911 calls.

East St. Louis also has its own PSAP.

Under a state law, counties with more than 250,000 people had to cut in half the number of 911 call centers by July 2017. When the law went into effect, St. Clair County had eight and Madison County had 16 PSAPs.

“It is bittersweet in that we do not support this law, however are mandated to follow the unfunded requirement,” the Swansea Police Facebook post said. “We are happy that we are able to team up with Belleville Police Department and look forward to providing great service to the Village of Swansea. Chief Bill Clay and his staff have been amazing to Swansea and we appreciate it. Belleville has hired all four of our remaining 911 Telecommunicators. Belleville has dedicated them to continue dispatching for Swansea since they already know the geography, landmarks and the ‘Swansea’ way. As every true 911 Telecommunicator knows, that is imperative during times of emergency. This is awesome.”

As part of the move to Belleville, Swansea is slated to pay Belleville about $309,000 during the 2017-18 fiscal year, and about $316,500 during the 2018-19 fiscal year, according to an intergovernmental agreement between the two municipalities.

The payments would cover the cost of four telecommunicators, the intergovernmental agreement says.

“Rest assured there will be some ‘hiccups’ during this consolidation but it has been in the planning for nearly two years,” the Swansea Police Facebook post said. “We researched, double researched and researched again the best possible deal and safest plan for this day.”

Swansea Village Board Trustee Matt Lanter said he opposed the mandate forcing Swansea to give up dispatching.

“The idea that it’s going to save money is beyond foolish,” Lanter said. “This is going to cost Swansea taxpayers more money; they’re going to get less service and it’s not good for public safety.”

Reporter Mike Koziatek contributed to this article.

Joseph Bustos: 618-239-2451, @JoeBReporter