DISPATCH-Let residents decide


Years back, when our police force NEEDED changes, it fell on deaf ears. Now, when our force is working well, 'newbies' to the council wish to make it archaic, once again. After twenty-two years of watching my Ward (4) go from 'crime-ridden', to ugly step-child' to at last, a safer area to live, members of the city council want to eliminate the residents' life-line to the force. They wish to 'fix' something that Does Not Need Fixing. Typical of politicians, even at this level of government. I've spoken to numerous business owners (though not Mr. Hastings), homeowners and renters and not one is in favor of ridding our police dep't. of our dispatchers. In issue #2221, Mr. Gildauskis stated that there are "far more complicated locations in Pinellas County ...and the Sheriffs seem to be finding them just fine." He did not, however, give the amount of response time it took to find these places. Time matters-just ask the woman being beaten by an angry spouse or the elderly couple huddled together in the closet as their door is being broken into. Hmmmmmm. After many years of begging neighbors to phone the GPD when there is a problem or disturbance, residents are now calling in and our officers are able to catch culprits at the scene, get pertinent info of ongoing problems, and just plain do their jobs in a timely manner. PREVENTION is very important. Now, those council members wish to take away one of the basic tools we residents have to do just that. Response time, on average in our ward, is four minutes thanks to dispatchers who take the call, info, and send it to our officers. The dispatchers are familiar with on-going problems, crime watch captains, and problem areas. The Sheriffs' dispatchers are not. They know which officers are dealing with specific problems-Sheriffs' dispatchers are not. Instead of 'tying up' the 911 lines, we are able to phone 893-1030, immediately speak with the dispatch and KNOW we won't be 'put in a long line of other calls through-out the county'. That's why we chose small-town life versus big-city. Do the council members really want to have our security cliched? What's next, waiting for an ambulance much too long? If I need an officer NOW, I don't want to wait for someone to 'clear their throat, and then connecy me to yet another line. Every second counts, especially when it's YOU that needs an officers' help. Finally, kudos to these dispatchers. They are seldom seen, and yet, they are the people that make CERTAIN that help is on its' way! Why the rush to eliminate them? Do you get a plaque for saving money? Do you get a bonus? Why the wait to bring this subject up less than two months from the end of the fiscal year? Raise our taxes, if that's what is needed to keep them. What price to you put on a life? Let the VOTERS choose, not city council. We're the people affected by their going/staying the most. At least MY city council member, Sam Henderson, has not copped-out and joined the fray for elimination. Perhaps it's because he's a resident first and a council member second? You've got my support, Sam! You're obviously not looking for 'atta boys' and 'gold stars' from your peers. You're just good folk, hoping to keep our town safe, the way it is. Your motives are not ulterior.