Millburn's Dispatch Might Be Taken Over By Livingston

Due to budget issues the township looks to share police services starting January 2013.

Millburn officials are weighing the possible savings in outsourcing the town's police dispatch to Livingston. If approved, the township is estimating it will start in early 2013. 

"Unless Livingston gives us an outrageous figure it seems it may go through," Millburn's business administrator, Thomas Gordon, said. 

A subcommittee is currently discussing the proposal. A report is expected at the next Township Committee meeting on Aug. 21 and could be approved as early as that meeting. Nothing has been made official yet police officials said.

"It won't affect the residents at all," Gordon said. "The fire department dispatch has been shared since 1970."

Currently, there are dispatchers in the Police Department Building from 6:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. at the desk to answer phone calls and questions of residents who walk in. An officer is at the desk when a dispatcher is not there. 

Although nothing is finalized yet, Gordon believes there will be someone at the desk until at least 5 p.m. to assist residents. 

This shared service proposal will cut down staff in the police department but it is not known yet how many or whether Livingston will take them on.

According to Gordon, the state government's law that a town can only two percent increase on a its budget per year is why more townships are exploring the option of shared services where it can. 

"The cost of operations is going up and with the budget cap we have budget restraints," Gordon said. "Under the governor [Chris Christie] he wants the towns to share services."

Police Chief Gregory Weber told the Item of Millburn and Short Hills that his concern with the possible move is the loss of a personal connection with residents. 

BigShow July 31, 2012 at 04:59 PM
The FD is asking for over 400k in the budget for new equipment. While the police are only asking for 100k to fix an electrical box at Old Short and Brookside. This is to help with the foot and vehicular traffic going to and from the Papermill Playhouse not for some personal use.
BigShow July 31, 2012 at 05:00 PM
If the town wants to save money then why is there a town council member receiving a salary and full medical benefits on the town?
MPD July 31, 2012 at 10:27 PM
Shame there isn’t enough room to give all the information on this site, but this is an issue that will have a negative effect on the public safety of the entire Township. Some fast thoughts based on what other people have said: 1) Summit Fire Dispatch in both 1987 and 1990 had incidents where they were so overwhelmed they stated they wouldn’t be able to help Millburn FD, with the FD having no way of dispatching themselves. The 1987 incident was a major brush fire on the railroad tracks and 1990 incident was a basement fire on Spring Street. Check old editions of the Item, this was reported. What happens when LPD is too busy, like during a hurricane to dispatch MPD? Forgetting our history will result in repeating the mistakes of the past. 2) MPD dispatch, like all entities has had challenges, but based on the system, call ratio, and antiquated resources and equipment the dispatchers do an overall amazing job. They are critical on keeping the people of this community safe, in addition to the public safety personnel serving this community.
MPD July 31, 2012 at 10:29 PM
3) An immediate cost savings would be to have MPD take over Summit Dispatching. The present FD dispatch situation is not cost effective, nor is it safe (moving to Livingston PD would only potentially increase the danger of this situation). NFPA guidelines state that fire grows exponentially, so if firefighters can get to the fire quicker, there is a lesser chance of the fire growing out of control. Not having MPD dispatch MFD is a matter of internal politics and not in the interest of public safety, nor is it cost effective for the call run of MFD.
MPD July 31, 2012 at 10:29 PM
4) Although when 911 was instituted in NJ in the 1990’s, PSAP (public safety answering points) were supposed to be regional. This concept never worked in the busy urban and suburban areas and could not be implemented into the public safety paradigm that exists in NJ. If MPD was part of a complete regional department, this integration could work, but atlas it is not, it is one of 22 municipal police departments in Essex County. The various procedures of the various law enforcement agencies will preclude this from working correctly and no matter how hard the various agencies work, will result in diminished public safety. MPD with over 20,000 incidents a year and estimated 100,000 telephone calls coming into MPD Dispatch will not work in an equally busy community of Livingston. In backrooms high ranking members of the public community of Livingston PD and FD have expressed their concern and also do not believe this is going to be successful. The only one who is behind this proposal in LPD is their business administrator who has a history of negative public safety interactions.
MPD July 31, 2012 at 10:29 PM
5) Not to get into the various systematic ways that communication systems use, suffice to say that during Tropical Storm Irene if MPD was dispatched in LPD there would have been a complete communication crash of radio dispatch, 911, and telephone systems. You will just have to take my word on this that I know this to be true. To rectify and build the redundancies, so that this would not occur into the public safety communication systems would negate any cost savings for decades that Millburn is trying to achieve. It is possible, but very expensive. 6) Public safety communications is not cheap. For multiple years Millburn Township had budgeted money for public safety upgrades to the MPD System. Again we ask the question, why Town Hall officials didn’t allow MPD to spend the money to improve and upgrade the system? We further have to ask, what happened to that money that elected officials decided would be used to upgrade the system?
MPD July 31, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Public safety is not cheap, nor can it run like a business with a profit margin. Public safety should be run utilizing the best established practices. Just like we do with our school system, politics should stay out of the system and the residents of Millburn should demand the best when it is the safety of their lives, families, homes, and businesses on the line. Millburn has lots of areas that could result in savings from the reduced revenue; don’t let it be in this area. Unfortunately this seems to be a done deal done without public input and already decided in the shadow government of Millburn and that is truly a sad commentary. No matter if you are for or against this proposal, something this important should be debated in the sunshine of the Township Committee chambers and not in the dark and shady locations out of the reach of the public and press. The employees were already told they would be losing their jobs, before the public was even informed that this service would be lost. I think the people of Millburn deserve better. Heed Chief Weber’s warning in the Item. He is an expert and knows this isn’t a good idea. Trust his decades of experience he is a good man and knows law enforcement and public safety.
MPD July 31, 2012 at 10:56 PM
One more thing... ""It won't affect the residents at all," Gordon said. "The fire department dispatch has been shared since 1970." Fire dispatch was moved to Summit, post Paper Mill Fire in the 1980's.. Let's get our facts straight..
Tom pizzano July 31, 2012 at 11:34 PM
The plow does clear the ramp and is used to clear hydrants. But it's main function is to plow the road ahead of the fire engines because the trucks can't always make it up some of the step snowed covered hills. The DPW has only so many men and trucks. If they had to supply 2 trucks and 2 men to the FD then they aren't out plowing. Even with chains on tires, fire trucks have trouble with some roads. So the plow really isn't wasting resources. It really does make responses more efficient (timely).
justwondering July 31, 2012 at 11:39 PM
Craig, one issue I do not see addressed is the dispatching of the First Aid Squad, which is currently handled by MPD dispatchers. The dispatchers tone out calls, coordinate back up crews, relay updates from officers on scene, get ETAs on paramedics units and when needed coordinate meeting spots, etc. How will dispatch moving to LPD impact this community the next time an ambulance is needed?
Craig McCarthy July 31, 2012 at 11:44 PM
I did not know that. Justwondering, I'll make sure to try and find that out as well.
Tom pizzano July 31, 2012 at 11:47 PM
The power companies dispatch themselves not the the local 911 center
bob42 August 01, 2012 at 02:02 AM
Well said MPD, whoever you are. You are on the money. Millburn Public have to attend the meeting on the 21st and try to do what is right. Deals made in the dark by this 'subcommittee' are inappropriate when they affect the entire public. The fact of the matter is that the 'cost' of losing Millburn Public Safety dispatch drastically outweighs the 'savings'. I can't understand why Fire Chief Roberts and the Twp Committee do not realize that Millburn wins in so many ways by simply moving Fire Dispatch back to MPD, they save 200k per year, decrease response time for the FD and potentially save a house or life, I think the latter is enough reason alone.
FMBA August 01, 2012 at 02:05 AM
Now if you want to talk about incompetence of Mike Roberts, let’s talk about when Mike was a Battalion Chief and lead the charge to spec out a new tower-ladder truck. Despite warnings in all the fire professional journals he bought a lemon, which was supposed to last 20-years. Well within 2-years it had to be sold and new one purchase.. Oh an $800,000 mistake. But they made him fire chief. Before that, Tim Gordon also passed another man for the battalion chief’s position, so that he could make his friend Mike. And yes, Mike did get a ticket from a NJ State Trooper while driving an official fire vehicle. He tried to have the FMBA get it fixed and failed at that. Sort of corrupt, he even told us about it a local FMBA event. He was even given a ticket for parking overnight, in violation of Millburn ordinance in front of his home. He still parks there, even after he was found guilty and Tim Gordon had to pay for a lawyer to fight a ticket issued by the Millburn Police. Mike hates the Millburn Police, this is all about politics and Mike’s inferiority complex with police. 90% of the cops and firefighters are friends and work really well together, this is Mike making problems.
P_R_PC August 01, 2012 at 12:43 PM
I started this post on Monday with this question...and I'll ask again....Who is part of this "subcommittee"? I want names and credentials.
Craig McCarthy August 01, 2012 at 07:59 PM
P_R_PC: Deputy Mayor Robert Tillotson and Committeeman Ted Burke are on the subcommittee, Mayor Sandra Haimoff said. Research is being done by the police department, which Burke is coordinating analyzing the results Haimoff also said.
P_R_PC August 01, 2012 at 08:39 PM
Thanks for the update Craig, nice work. Honestly, a very very disappointing subcommittee - but not a surprise from this Township Committee. Would have been smart to create a true subcommittee made up of business owners, residents along side members of the town council - provide a true POV from those who may be impacted by this move. Feels very one $ided to me.
Millburn1954 August 01, 2012 at 08:49 PM
Now the plot thickens. The police department has said from day one that this is a bad idea and not in the interest of public safety. Someone isn’t telling the truth; is it the police (I don’t think so) or have the elected officials been led astray by other forces? This is a real bad idea, if our Township Committee cares about lives and property, they will save police dispatch, have MPD dispatch MFD, save the money from not paying Summit FD to do this task, and look for other ways to save taxpayer money and still stay under the 2% cap. If money is such a problem and public safety can’t be accomplished, I suggest we sell the Paper Mill Playhouse property to a private concern, stop buying ratable properties in the downtown Millburn area in anticipation for a Town Hall we will never build, or consider eliminating other non-life threatening programs. We don’t have our own health department, we don’t pick up our own trash anymore, we share a variety of other services; although I realize this is a reality in these tough times, soon there won’t be a Township worth having. Maybe we should just cede our boarders to Maplewood and Livingston.
Joel August 01, 2012 at 10:49 PM
I couldn't agree more!
Henry August 02, 2012 at 01:24 PM
Mr. Pizzano, You are wrong. From what I understand, the Police Department calls power company to notify of power outages.
BigShow August 02, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Mr Pizzano who do you think gets in touch with the power company to dispatch the trucks into Millburn Short Hills? Millburn Short Hills Police communications. So not only are they handling medical aids, angry residents having no power, advising residents to get out of the house when they smell smoke, but they also have to notify the power company of power outages. Then if there is a life or death emergency due to the power outage everyone, except for an officer on a motor vehicle stop, takes a back seat till help is with that person.
BigShow August 02, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Mr Fonseca have you thought for a second maybe the court personnel did not know what they were talking about? Why does it ultimately become the police's fault? Because the court is in the police building? I, myself, have issued a careless driving ticket to another driver in Millburn Short Hills and I was told the same thing. I spoke with a Police supervisor and he walked over to the court window with me and had the court personnel handle my complaint. So Mr Fonseca if you are just on here to bash the police with false information please earase your comments and just sit back and read. Thank you.
Craig McCarthy August 02, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Update: P_R_PC, Tom DcDermott, not Robert Tillotson is on the subcommittee said Mayor Sandra Haimoff today. Also, the subcommittee meets with the police chief and fire representatives who give their reports on the proposal.
millresident August 02, 2012 at 06:17 PM
Wait, so Mayor Haimoff said McDermott is on the subcommittee not Tillitson? So, is there really a subcommittee or not? How can you make a mistake like that?
Craig McCarthy August 03, 2012 at 03:33 AM
Mayor Haimoff said today there is one but she confused subcommittees and who was on them.
BigShow August 03, 2012 at 12:55 PM
I would like to know if this idea/project the town is planning for dispatch is going to end up like the speed bump plan from a few years back. From what I remember that ended as fast as it began. Why do the council people spend the town's money frivolously on projects that do not help us at all? And second question why does this council belive they can make big risk decisions for the town without discussing them with us, the people who they represent?
reality check August 04, 2012 at 01:57 PM
The answer to the Big Show's question is simple. Tim Gordon has been running this town for almost thirty years. That is unheard of for that type of position. He is a control freak and he tells the committee what to do. Committees past and present have enboldened him. They have voted to pay his legal bills for lawsuits resulting from his own actions (old short hills park for once). Gordon gave a deposition in Baldani Vs. Millburn and the town paid his bill. In that deposition Gordon admits to being charged with stealing tax money when he ran Pleasantvill. He never told Millburn officials when they hired him. This council paid his defense bill when the PBA charged him with misconduct criminally
Deidre August 04, 2012 at 11:21 PM
KC August 08, 2012 at 01:17 PM
See latest article: "Currently, the Millburn dispatchers cost an average taxpayer an estimated $73 annually and with the shared services proposal it will lower the costs to an estimated $67." Is saving $6 a year for an avg. taxpayer really worth the service loss by this move?
Sagamore mom 143 August 11, 2012 at 01:21 AM
In addition to KC's comment, what would the cost drop to if we moved Fire dispatch from Summit to our home town?!?!? How come no one has asked this question? We spend how much a year for fire to Summit and now police to Livingston. If this is all about consolidation, why not fire and police be dispatched from the same place WITHIN OUR OWN TOWN, what do you think Cheif Roberts? In addition, Taxpayers WILL NOT be seeing tax reductions because of this merger, which people forget to see.


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