GILFORD — The town has expressed its support for an idea being considered by the county to consolidate each town’s police dispatching services into one county-wide dispatch service, similar to the Lakes Region Mutual Fire Aid dispatch system.
The Belknap County Commissioners came to a recent meeting of the Board of Selectman and asked for the town’s input for of a study that could be used to develop a county-wide, regional police emergency dispatch communication system.
County town fire and rescue crews are currently dispatched through the mutual aid center, which is located on the former Laconia State School grounds.
Several towns in the county, including Gilford, have their own full-time or part-time police dispatching systems now, yet each town is also billed yearly for the county sheriff’s police dispatch.
Gilford would support one centralized police dispatch and drop its own dispatch system, because it would save the cost of the county dispatch bill, which was about $90,000 last year, said Town Administrator Scott Dunn. The town pays for the county service and its own service, but doesn’t need both, he said.
The town has directed Police Chief Kevin Keenan “to actively participate” in such a study “as an advocate,” Dunn said.
If the county does not adopt such a system, Gilford has asked that a fee system for dispatch services be developed that are provided to towns (and the city of Laconia) based upon how much each community actually uses the current sheriff’s dispatch system, he said.
County Administrator Debra Shackett said the commissioners are considering studying the idea of building a county police dispatch center, possibly putting in the same building in which the regional fire dispatch center is now located.
“We are looking at ways to save taxpayer dollars at the local level,” Shackett said. “There’s got to be a more cost-effective way.”
The commission is keeping the study idea on its agenda and will likely decide on it soon, Shackett said.