State Troopers Against Dispatch Cuts
North Carolina state troopers say their safety and the safety of the public is in jeopardy thanks to a plan by Governor McCrory to eliminate three Highway Patrol dispatch centers, including one based in Asheville. "Hopefully they will reconsider what they're doing and not move the center here," said Buncombe County 911 director Jerry Vehaun.
Under the plan anyone calling *HP would be routed to dispatchers more than a hundred miles away in Catawba County. Vehaun is also against the governor's proposal. "They may not know where certain areas are they they've been dealing with in the western part of the state," he said.
The effort is part of a larger plan by the governor to slash the state's budget. If lawmakers give the green light 36 dispatchers will lose their jobs, 14 of whom would be fired from the mountain's Troop G headquarters. Said Vehaun, "to me that's definitely a public safety issue."
News 13's Mario Boone tried tried repeatedly to find a trooper willing to go on camera about this controversy. Not a single one agreed out of fear they might be disciplined and even fired. But the NC Troopers Association released a statement saying "having communicators in areas they know is critical to officer safety and fast response for already overextended troopers."
The Department of Public Safety disputes that saying no impact is expected "on response times, public safety, or officer safety."
Ironically, the Troopers Association endorsed Governor McCrory in last year's election. There's no word on how this controversy might affect the group's support for the governor next time around.
The NC Department of Public Safety released this statement:
"The Communication Center consolidation ensures a more efficient and effective communications process. This reduction was very carefully studied and it was determined that with advancements in technology, we will be able to manage this reorganization. We do not anticipate any impact on response times, public safety or officer safety. The call load from the closed communication centers will be channeled to existing communication centers. This will reduce the redundancy of operations. Should the consolidation be included in the final budget, we will do all we can to assist the employees who are affected,” Secretary Kieran Shanahan, Department of Public Safety."
By: Mario Boone, firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow on Twitter: @marioboone