Sheriff's Office to take over Arroyo Grande police dispatch services

clambert@thetribunenews.com, mfountain@thetribunenews.comApril 23, 2014 

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office will provide police dispatch services for Arroyo Grande under a three-year contract approved unanimously this week by county supervisors and the Arroyo Grande City Council.

The change will cost Arroyo Grande an estimated $322,576 for the 2014-15 fiscal year, with costs increasing about $30,000 each year for two years after that.

Arroyo Grande is estimated to save about $170,000 the first year, which will be returned to the city’s general fund, Police Chief Steve Annibali said.

But the move will also provide increased service, he said, by ensuring that at least two dispatchers are working at all times. The Sheriff’s Office usually has three to four dispatchers and a watch commander working at all times.

Sometimes, the Police Department would only have one dispatcher working a graveyard shift, for example, which could be problematic during a major emergency.

“This isn’t just about saving money,” said Supervisor Caren Ray, a former Arroyo Grande council member. “It’s about increasing service.”

Fire-related emergency calls will be dispatched by Grover Beach police.

Arroyo Grande’s five dispatchers had moved to the Sheriff’s Office dispatch center in February in anticipation of a remodeling project at the police station on North Halcyon Road.

Since then, three dispatchers have taken other jobs, and one is expected to join the Sheriff’s Office. One dispatcher did not apply for a position with the Sheriff’s Office, and now faces a layoff, according to Annibali.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Supervisor Adam Hill asked Sheriff Ian Parkinson whether Grover Beach and Pismo Beach could possibly consolidate with the sheriff’s dispatch center in the future.

Parkinson said the sheriff’s dispatch center was recently remodeled and could handle more dispatchers, but added: “There’s a lot of wait and see. All eyes are on us.”

In addition, Parkinson said, Arroyo Grande’s remodeled police station will include the same type of dispatch system as the Sheriff’s Office, so the station can act as a “second emergency dispatch center” if needed.

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