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City officials want to keep dispatchers

Updated: Wednesday, March 26 2014, 07:58 AM EDT


The city of Martins Ferry is facing some financial issues; one way to save money could be getting rid of police dispatchers.

“The city is now in a position where either they are going to increase the income tax by a quarter percent, which will take it up to 1 percent or do away with the dispatchers,” Martins Ferry Police Chief John McFarland said.

Mayor of Martins Ferry, Paul Riethmiller, said switching to a 911 call center would save some money, but he believes dispatchers are a safety factor in the community.

“It’s the safety of our residents. There’s people that come into this building 24/7 and they want to talk to a human being. They don’t want an answering machine and they want to feel safe. This city building I consider to be a safe haven; if people are in trouble or they need help, they can come here and know they’re safe,” Riethmiller said.

Without dispatchers, the city building would no longer be open 24 hours a day, it would be locked at 3 p.m. – this means officers could be called back to the building at any time by the 911 call center, which will affect the number of officers patrolling the city.

“It would be difficult for the citizens that come to the window to file a report; it would be difficult for the officers that I try to make sure are out patrolling as much as they can. There are a lot of calls that dispatchers take care of for us,” McFarland said.

From 2010 to 2013, the number of calls coming into Martins Ferry’s dispatchers increased by almost 2,500. In 2013, dispatchers handled over 9,000 calls.

“We have increased our amount of calls, and officers do an excellent job responding to calls and investigating major crimes, and I just think it would be a step backwards for the department,” McFarland said.

Riethmiller said city council is now looking at ways to raise revenue, and raising the income tax to 1 percent will bring in $300,000 of additional revenue a year.

City officials want to keep dispatchers

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