Hermiston police looking to consolidate dispatch center

HERMISTON, Oreg. - Hermiston is looking to save big bucks with a new consolidation of its dispatch center, but it may come at the cost of some jobs. Police say not only will it save money, but will help firefighters get to your home faster.

It's the heartbeat of the community and vital to communicating with police and fire. But the state might force a consolidation, so Hermiston is looking to make changes sooner than later.

"We have an opportunity to bypass any reservations of forced consolidation and have a say in what's best long term for the city of Hermiston," said Hermiston Chief Jason Edmiston.

Hermiston PD is looking to merge its dispatch center with those in Umatilla and Morrow Counties. It could save 150-grand a year, but if they don't make the move costs could balloon to a million dollars in the in the next two years.

"It's a significant savings, the downside is this could have an effect on people's personal lives," said Edmiston.

And those personal lives are the actual dispatchers. Right now there are currently seven on staff. Two would stay in Hermiston, three would relocate to Pendelton, and two would lose their jobs. When we visited the dispatch center, no one wanted to talk to me about it. The Chief knows it's a tough decision.

"Citizens charge me with thinking more globally, as far as thinking what's good for the entire city," said Edmiston.

And what's good for police is also good for fire fighters. Response times can be delayed when using two dispatch centers.

"It's frustrating for them, too, and it creates delays having information transferred, it's much better to do it out of one place," said Chief Pat Hart of Hermiston Fire and Emergency Services.

Staff say consolidation is inevitable with the state's goal of only having 36 dispatch centers in all, there are currently 49.

"I think this is going to happen with or without our cooperation I would much rather do it on our terms and do it now," said Hart.

Hermiston city leaders will vote on the issue Monday. If passed, the dispatch center would be based out of Pendleton.