Deerfield vying as center for dispatch consortium

By Gregory Harutunian For Chronicle Media

Lincolnshire Police Chief Joe Leonas. (Photo courtesy of the Lincolnshire Police Department)

The voiding and expiration of several intergovernmental contracts, lower cost factors, and contiguous borders have all converged into the creation of tri-city agreement for emergency dispatch services with Deerfield at its center, pending approval from the state of Illinois Consolidation Board.

The start-up date could be as early as mid-May.

The Village Board of Deerfield unanimously approved the plan that brings Lincolnshire and Bannockburn together with the municipality’s dispatch services, during its Feb. 19 meeting. The board also abated an older agreement with Bannockburn at the same session, as a precursor to the new accord.

The adjacent village of Riverwoods is also expected to eventually join the consortium, but still remains tied to the Lake County Emergency Telephone System Board, although Deerfield provides its emergency dispatch services.

“It’s a benefit to all three communities and a like-minded deal in that we can provide services that would get lost, when you have these mega-center dispatching sites, and be able to maintain service that we’ve had for more than 20 years,” said Deerfield Deputy Police Chief Thomas Keane. “The 911 center calls would come into one central location, and there would be no great delay in dispatching.

“Part of the Illinois State Tollway is in our jurisdiction, and 911 calls for major accidents are transferred to the state police,” he said. “At this point, it’s all under review … both the application and plan were submitted to the state for their approval.”

In 2016, the Illinois General Assembly enacted legislation whereby dispatch centers in an area of less than 25,000 in population must merge with larger facilities. Lincolnshire is one such community, and had an existing contract with Vernon Hills to provide emergency dispatch services. That contract is set to lapse late this year.

“The state could approve this plan as soon as May, maybe mid-month, and we expect the same continuation of service with Deerfield, as we had with Vernon Hills,” said Lincolnshire Police Chief Joe Leonas. “The benefits are in the cost factors, where we’ll being save $1 million over five years, the contract’s length. With Vernon Hills, the successor agreement had a 21 percent increase, which got us interested in other markets.

“The cost overall is about $400,000 with built-in escalators. Broken down, it’s $185,000 for 2019, $190,000 for 2020 … cost benefits were the goal,” he said. “The other communities have the same populations and we’re situated equally between Deerfield and Bannockburn. These are contiguous communities unlike other dispatch area.”

Deerfield expects to receive an estimated $1 million in potential revenues from the two contracted communities over the five-year period.

The agreement is the culmination of a Deerfield initiative to complete this type of agreement, and also a civil rendering against the state of Illinois to prevent the dispatch center’s closure through consolidation.

In August 2016, village officials sought a waiver through the Illinois Commerce Commission for exemption from the mandated merger requirement, based on population. Two apartment complexes within the municipal boundaries, newly constructed at the time, were expected to bring the population total over the 25,000 mark threshold, when at full occupancy. Other communities, serviced by Deerfield’s dispatch center, also voiced their support for its continuation.

“It was a joint effort on a local level,” said Keane. “We’re looking forward to maintaining service, and a new chapter.”

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