It's now time to pull the plug on dispatch system

If you think Congress is gridlocked, consider the years spent trying to put local emergency dispatch services here under a single roof.

If you haven’t been following this endless debate — and we couldn’t fault you if you have not — here are the basics:

Androscoggin County has three dispatch services. County government runs one, Lisbon runs another, while Lewiston-Auburn runs the third and largest center.

And all parties either resent having to pay what they currently pay or fear having to pay more.

Lewiston and Auburn currently help pay for a large part of the county dispatch system, even though they also are paying for their own system.

That doesn’t seem fair until you consider Lewiston-Auburn residents account for the overwhelming majority of the people in the county jail. The smaller towns argue they are paying a disproportionate share for L-A’s hoodlums.

As you can see, there is no precise way to break out and allocate county services to everyone’s satisfaction.

This argument can go on forever and it already has. A variety of boards have been assembled over the years to create the ultimate solution, a unified dispatch service under one roof.

After a decade of talking, it has become obvious that there is no clear-cut solution to this problem.

Lewiston and Auburn are now poised to pull out of the talks and simply stop paying for the county dispatch services they do not need or want.

The county then will likely go to court seeking to force the cities to make payments.

At that point, a judge can take a close look at the law and make a decision on whether the cities can simply walk away.

There is precedent for this. Bangor once tried to pull out of the Penobscot County system, but a judge ruled against the city.

The facts in this case are slightly different, so nobody really knows how a judge might decide.

Androscoggin County’s dispatch system is old and inadequate. Lisbon’s system is likely too small.

If Lewiston and Auburn can withdraw, the county and small towns will be left to join Lisbon, pay more to update the county’s system or join L-A’s system.

They also might decide to do none of the above and take their business to another agency in a different county.

That would be unfortunate, since we are convinced that adding one more link to the emergency-response chain will increase response time and open the door to other communications problems.

The best and most efficient solution remains centralizing all services in one locally operated call center. It is a shame we just can’t seem to get there from here.

But we’re all tired of reading and talking about this issue. Let’s move on.

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and editorial board.

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FRANK EARLEY's picture

Hows this for an idea.....

I have no doubt that Lewiston Auburn accounts for a large portion of inmates at the county jail. There may be a lot more people in the L/A area but the total number of idiots are pretty much spread out. Some are considerate enough to drive into town from someplace like Hebron to get arrested, saving all that gas money.
However deputies are still going to be run ragged trying to keep up with the rush on Friday night. Say a cruiser has to drive about as far out of town as possible and still be in the county, just because someone got drunk and tried to beat up his fireplace. I say when he goes to court, whether he's found guilty or not. He should have to pay for the call.There's no denying the cruiser had to go there. If he's found guilty he pays the going fine, then tack on another hundred to cover expenses.
If Its done that way for everyone who attracts a cruiser. Then eventually the idiots are paying their own way. I'm probably way out of line here, I mean actually punishing those responsible, it probably wouldn't be legal. Also don't forget, there are fire and rescue calls also.

Dispatch /911 system

Your editorial hit the nail right on the head.Bravo!

Steve  Dosh's picture

It's now time to pull the plug on dispatch system

Rex , Tuesday 21:21 hst • ?
It is a crying shame you just can’t seem to get there from here , Bert . Best of luck with that one . Some of us are old enough to remember when they finally did get rid of the G T E private crank phones and party lines in Bryant Pond ? 1 9 8 5 or whenever it 'twas{%22ImageId%22%3A9506930} Get's cold up they'ya . Got so cold one winter my dog ƒroze to the porch , a'yuh , he did :) Alo'ha from Pahoa /s, Steve

ERNEST LABBE's picture

But Dan

The rich cities have so much more money, so the small towns deserve the help.

ERNEST LABBE's picture

Exactly correct

Exactly correct and neither are most of those people that got those big tax breaks you rant about all the time.

ERNEST LABBE's picture

And those

And those are not rich people, they are the middle class workers that finished high school, perhaps did a college stint, and go to work every day. I now understand your idea of rich. Your talking about the achivers not the deadbeats.

Jason Theriault's picture

Umm, really?

The three year average median household income for Maine was $48,081.
My household is higher than that but no where near $100K. I also have a masters degree, I go to work every day.


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