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Special report to the Pulaski County Commission on dispatch overtime
The 2009 budget process cut the staff for the sheriff’s office dispatch unit to four employees. The dispatch and MULES operation requires that the terminal be staffed 24/7/365. You cannot do not with only four people.

The payroll record for March 1 to March 14 is a perfect example of why this will not work. We had one dispatcher take a 12 day vacation. That left three people to run the operation on a 24/7 basis. Then one other dispatcher got sick during this same time frame and needed days off to recover. That left two people to run 24/7.

The bottom line is as follows. The dispatcher who got sick finished the pay period with 13.5 overtime hours. The two dispatchers that the burden fell upon finished with 54.38 and 55.13 hours of overtime.

This accumulation of unnecessary overtime will continue to occur every time a member of the dispatch staff takes sick leave, vacation, or is sent to required training. The only way to stop this drain on the county finance will be to hire at least two, preferably three, additional full time dispatchers. The approval to hire the new people will have to be done quickly.

One of our current dispatchers has accepted a job with another agency. He leaves our employ March 21. One other dispatcher is currently in the background process with the Missouri State Highway Patrol and I expect to lose her within 45 days. That will leave two dispatchers to train and supervise the new hires. The Sheriff’s Office dispatch unit will be on the brink of collapse during that training period and excessive overtime hours will be accumulated.

If you fail to act quickly then the dispatch unit will most likely collapse and the MULES function will have to transfer to the 911 Communication Center. The cost of the MULES requirement at the 911 Center will be close to $60,000 per year. Pulaski County cannot afford to have the MULES and dispatch work sent to the 911 Center because this will create a host of other financial problems for the county.

The most significant problem would be the need to have a backup person in the office 24/7/365 to answer our front door traffic, our telephone calls, and most importantly the monitoring of the jail staff as they interact with the inmates. We would have to retain dispatch employees, hire new people to handle these duties, or double the jail staff. The only other option would be to have road deputies stay at the office to watch the jail. That would cut in half the deputies available to respond to the calls of our citizens. Since we also lost two deputy positions during the 2009 budget we are short on road deputies and this could lead to a shift were the only deputy on duty has to stay with the jail staff. There would be nobody to respond to a call.

If we are going to face these types of problems, it would be much better to simply increase the needed resources for a successful and smart dispatch operation and continue the current status quo.

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