The Derry Township Board of Supervisors voted unanimously at its August 25, 2020 meeting to authorize the Township Manager to officially explore transfer of police dispatch services to Dauphin County. The decision was made to reduce expenses in light of a projected 1.6 million-dollar shortfall caused in part from the reduction in amusement tax and parking revenue lost during the pandemic. The change would save Derry Township an estimated $550,000 per year with the reduction in salaries, benefits and communications center hardware.
Dauphin County has said that transitioning the police dispatching services from the Derry Township Police Department to Dauphin County Department of Public Safety could begin as early as this fall. Derry Township is the only municipality out of 40 in the county that manages its own police dispatch services.
“The decision to consider shutting down our Dispatch Center, which has been in operation since 1973, was one that was extremely difficult for the Township to make. With the strain placed on fiscal management of budgets and services due to COVID-19, it is imperative to ensure quality public safety services to our residents and visitors without placing an extra financial burden on them,” said Derry Township Police Chief Garth Warner.
“We believe our Dispatch Center provided an extremely high level of personalized service to our community and cannot be fully replicated by an outside Dispatch Center but this transition should not affect our ability to ensure the safety of our officers, residents, workers, and guests to the Township of Derry,” added Chief Warner.
“The economic reality caused by COVID-19 has required the Township to look inward to reduce costs and eliminate duplicative services wherever possible. The Township has been steadily working since April to evaluate all departments, staff, and community services to reduce expenses and close the impending revenue gap,” said Derry Township Manager Christopher Christman.
With the great strides made in the Commonwealth to consolidate 911 emergency services under county government, the Township has been closely examining the possibility of closing its communications center and transferring that responsibility to Dauphin County. “Transferring police dispatch services would be seamless for our residents and guests,” added Christman.
Nine full-time and part-time dispatch jobs would be impacted by the transfer of services but Township management would work with those affected to help connect them with similar positions at the county and other nearby security departments.
“While I do not take this decision lightly, I believe that transferring this responsibility to Dauphin County is in the best interest of the Township now and into the future. Ultimately, such a transfer will allow the Township to preserve other governmental functions and address its structural deficit caused by the pandemic,” concluded Christman.
The Board of Supervisors will meet to discuss the proposed change at a meeting next month.