Despite many residents at the Brentwood Board of Aldermen meeting Monday vocally opposed to the city closing its own dispatch center and outsourcing the job to the East Central Dispatch Center (ECDC), the Brentwood aldermen voted 5-3 to do just that.
Aldermen Anthony Harper, Cindy Manestar and Maureen Saunders voted “no” to the switch. Lee Wynn, Keith Robertson, Tom Kramer, Patrick Toohey and Andy Leahy voted “yes.”
Four residents spoke against losing the Brentwood dispatchers, including Brandon Jones, who submitted a stack of papers that he said were 409 signatures opposed to the change, which he had canvased for with seven other residents. Jones also announced his candidacy for Ward 3 alderman (challenging Robertson, if he runs) in 2015 on 40 South News Facebook immediately following the vote.
Another resident said a deck fire could have consumed her house if the Brentwood firefighters hadn’t arrived as quickly as they had, and another told how she called Brentwood dispatch for a lost dog.
Saunders said she and Manestar visited ECDC and the Brentwood dispatch centers before the meeting, and said Brentwood has two channels, not one, as she said they had been told. She said moving over to ECDC, they’ll add staff but not channels, which will have more activity.
Harper said he was concerned about not having enough say in the workings of the ECDC, with multiple city administrators having a say, also if the city goes to ECDC there’s no going back. He also said ECDC won’t monitor city hall and court meetings, which Brentwood dispatchers do.
Toohey said ECDC has better resources to do the job than Brentwood, and said he’d vote for it. Leahy said he had researched response times and ECDC’s were comparable to Brentwood’s.
After the vote, Brentwood dispatcher Judy Coleman said where ever she goes now she’ll take a big pay cut. “Plus I know all my officers,” she said. “It’s like a family, and I have to leave them.”
Manestar said they’re starting to dismantle Brentwood, and Saunders said a police chief in another city had told her four weeks ago, “this was already a done deal.”
Harper agreed with the sentiment. “It’s another rubber stamp,” he said. “Look at the history of the votes.”