The Pasco County Sheriff’s Office is talking to county fire rescue about crafting a proposal to merge the agencies’ emergency dispatch and communications services, Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said Wednesday.
“We can enhance the safety of our citizens, law enforcement officers and firefighters by consolidating,” Nocco said.
The sheriff’s office met with county officials Wednesday for early discussions about the idea, with members of municipalities’ public safety agencies invited to watch the discussion.
Right now, discussion is in the early stages. The meeting was just a first step.
Nocco said a plan likely wouldn’t be ready by Oct. 1, the beginning of the county’s fiscal year. Officials first need to hammer out a plan that the agencies can all agree upon. Nocco said part of that could involve looking at how other agencies have attacked the problem.
Currently, Pasco Fire Rescue is the primary agency that answers 911 calls in the county jurisdiction. Calls for law enforcement are then transferred to the sheriff’s office dispatch.
Between Jan. 1 and July 31, the county received 48,329 911 calls. Of those, 290 were reportedly dropped. The "reasons for dropped calls could be many, such as cellphone service interuption by the caller," sheriff's office spokesman Keevin Doll.
Municipalities have been invited to see what the county is doing, but right now the only two agencies talking about a merger are the sheriff’s office and fire rescue. New Port Richey and Pasco's other municipalities have their own dispatch units.
A consultant in 2010 suggested the county consider merging sheriff’s office, county fire rescue and municipality dispatch services. The resulting discussion about merging dispatches came to nothing. That was when Nocco was a captain.
Now, “We have to find efficiencies,” Nocco said.
How much money a merger would save the county is not yet clear.