Proposed Change to 911 Dispatching

Crestwood has dispatchers on staff that answer all 911 and non-emergency calls placed within Crestwood. During the past few years, the city has experienced challenges maintaining this staff and providing coverage. When a dispatcher is on vacation or unable to work, or a position is vacant, a police officer is assigned to answer calls, reducing the number of officers on the street doing police work. This actually happens often and is clearly not the optimal set up.

Shortly after coming to Crestwood, Police Chief Williams worked with his staff to evaluate options to improve this situation. They reviewed and evaluated multiple options, including increasing staff or outsourcing the dispatch center to St. Louis County, East Central Dispatch Center, or Sunset Hills and developed a comprehensive proposal describing those options. For various reasons including cost and level of service – the clear choice was to partner with Sunset Hills.

The Crestwood Board of Alderman unanimously approved a contract with Sunset Hills at the April 27 meeting. However, the Sunset Hills Board of Alderman (on the same evening) didn't feel they had enough information and postponed the vote. If approved by Sunset Hills, all 911 calls from within Crestwood will be answered by the Sunset Hills dispatch center. Crestwood police officers will also communicate on the same channel as Sunset Hills officers, providing more effective mutual aid between our communities.

During non-business hours, Sunset Hills will be responsible for monitoring the city’s security cameras and answering non-emergency calls. During normal business hours, Crestwood will continue to answer non-emergency calls and will also continue to staff the police window at city hall for contact with the public.

Unfortunately, four full time dispatcher positions will be eliminated. Each impacted employee will receive a severance package and placement assistance. One position will remain with Crestwood to provide business-hour coverage for community walk-in contact, answering of non-emergency calls (about 40-100 per day), and other support duties.

The proposal authored by Chief Williams outlines several benefits and opportunities for Crestwood:

Contracting with Sunset Hills is an opportunity to better serve the City of Crestwood. It is an opportunity to expand our already successful relationship with our closest neighbor. It is an opportunity to increase our officer’s safety by adding more Police Officers on a radio channel. It is an opportunity to better respond to critical incidents. It is an opportunity to collaborate on issues that are affecting the safety and security of both Crestwood and Sunset Hills. And it is an opportunity to redirect funds to areas that need attention within the police department.

The City of Crestwood will be better served contracting our dispatching services through Sunset Hills Police Department. Nearly $130,000 can be redirected within the Police Department budget, officer’s morale will increase, and the community will have more officers at their disposal with two departments on one channel.

More information on this topic, including the Sunset Hills Board of Alderman meeting, check out the article at the Call Newspaper.