.

Only One Bid Received for Privatized Police Dispatching

Lawrence Township is considering whether to privatize police/911 dispatching services. Cranbury-based iXP Corp. was the only company to respond to the township's request for proposals. iXP's offer, opened on Thursday, is for an annual cost of

Private companies interested in providing police/911 emergency dispatching services for Lawrence Township had until 11 a.m. yesterday (Thursday, Jan. 3) to submit sealed bids in response to a formal “request for proposals” issued by the township on Dec. 4.

When the deadline arrived, Township Manager Richard Krawczun had only one envelope to open. The packet contained a proposal from Cranbury-based iXP Corporation to staff the Lawrence Township Police Department Communications Center for up to five years from April 1, 2013, to March 31, 2018, at an annual cost of $719,400, or $59,950 per month.

Krawczun said the proposal will be reviewed for compliance with the bid specifications (a copy of which can be found in the media box to the right) by himself, Police Chief Daniel Posluszny and his staff, and Township Attorney David Roskos.

If the proposal is found to be in compliance, the bid will be forwarded to members of Lawrence Township Council for a vote at their meeting next Tuesday (Jan. 8) to either privatize dispatching services by awarding a contract to iXP or reject the bid and maintain the status quo of the police communications center being staffed by municipal employees.

At the bid opening yesterday, Krawczun declined to say how much money the township spends for dispatching services each year under the existing arrangement. He said a “cost analysis” will be presented at next Tuesday’s meeting to allow council members to compare the current operation with that of the proposal from iXP.  

“We’ll have that for Tuesday so we can make sure we’re comparing apples to apples,” he said.

Krawczun said the bid from iXP was delivered yesterday morning. “There was another bidder who did an inquiry but we did not receive any bid documents [from that company],” he said.

It was in September that Lawrence Township Council passed a resolution directing the township administration to use the state’s competitive contracting process to solicit proposals from private companies interested in providing police/911 emergency dispatching services to the township. Finalization of the bid specifications was delayed by Hurricane Sandy.

Under the provisions of competitive contracting, cost does not have to be the sole deciding factor in awarding a contract.

Nevertheless, township officials have said that their intention in seeking proposals is to determine if taxpayer money can be saved by privatizing dispatching services in light of the township needing to cut a significant amount from its 2013 municipal budget in order to comply with the state’s 2 percent tax levy cap.

While noting that the amount continues to fluctuate based on a number of variables, township officials have described the tax cap overage as being around $500,000.

Ironically, under the confusing and seemingly-contradictory provisions of the tax cap law, any savings the township could generate by privatizing dispatching services could not be applied toward lowering the 2013 municipal tax cap overage.

Since privatization of dispatch services was first brought up as a possibility during the Sept. 4 council meeting, leaders of the dispatchers’ union and a number of township residents have spoken against such a move and expressed concerns about leaving decisions in potentially life-and-death situations to be made by contractors who are unfamiliar with the township.

The Lawrence Township Police Department has an authorized strength of nine civilian “communications operators,” however two of those dispatching positions have been vacant since March 2012. One dispatcher is currently on extended medical leave following a surgery. And another veteran dispatcher – worried he was soon to lose his job to privatization – left Lawrence Township in October to take a dispatcher position with the Ewing Township Police Department.

With only five civilian dispatchers currently available, uniformed police officers are regularly being pulled off the street to fill vacancies in the communications center, causing there to be fewer officers available to answer calls or forcing the township to bring extra officers in on overtime, union officials have said.

Union officials have said the dispatchers are willing to negotiate and make concessions in order to save their jobs.

While the township police department’s annual report shows that officers were dispatched to 52,684 assignments in 2011, the number of phone calls actually fielded by township dispatchers is much higher.

It is common for multiple 911 calls to be received for a single incident like a fire or traffic crash. Calls received via the department’s non-emergency number, (609) 896-1111, are often handled by the dispatchers without their needing to involve a police officer or generate an official assignment, such as when residents call to inquire about recycling pickup or ask to be transferred to a different municipal office.

And with the communications center located just inside the main entrance, the dispatchers are the department’s first point of contact for anyone who visits the police station to report a crime, inquire how to obtain a copy of a report or ask for directions.

According to the bid specifications released on Dec. 4, if a contract is awarded, the township will retain ownership of all radio, computer and other electronic equipment in the communications center, while the contractor will be responsible for all staffing matters including recruitment, training, performance and discipline.

If a contract is awarded, it will run from April 1, 2013, through March 31, 2015, with the township having an option to award one three-year extension, according to the specifications.

Also noted in the specifications is the following: “It is essential that the township move forward quickly to have the contract in place. Therefore, provider must include as part of its proposal a mobilization and implementation plan, beginning with the date of notification of contract award that affirms that provider will be capable of performing all work of the contract starting on April 1, 2013.”

 

See Also:

  • Dec. 10: “Township Now Accepting Bids for Police Dispatching”
  • Nov. 15: “Police Dispatchers Argue Against Privatizing Their Jobs”
  • Oct. 25: “Council's Decision About 2013 Layoffs Needed Soon”
  • Sept. 20: “Lawrence Council Considers Outside Bids for Emergency Dispatch”
  • Sept. 7: “”

 

 

Nancy Scott January 04, 2013 at 01:15 PM
Nothing that is decided in haste works out. Why are there no other bids in this rotten economy? In the end, the taxpayer pays for all these lapses in judgment by town officials. How will we ever forget the continuing fiasco with the red light cameras? How many more accidents? How many more calls to 911? Timing is everything, this is bad timing. Vote no.
Blueline January 04, 2013 at 02:39 PM
I would certainly check and see if Tricky Dick has any affiliation with this iXP company. He has already shown in the past his propensity for handing out contracts that benefit him in some sort of back door way. Primary example of this was handing Capitol Health the EMS contract years ago after the purchase of the Union Camp property failed. This dispatcher thing doesn't make sense. Their salaries combined WITH benefits no where near reaches the proposal amount. So therefore if this passes, you know something underhanded has happened
Anonymous January 04, 2013 at 04:49 PM
This sounds like a great way to reduce the growing cost of municipal government and long-term out of control financial obligations.
Teresita Bastides-Heron January 05, 2013 at 02:06 AM
I am very surprise to see that only one bid the township has received for the privatization of the Police Dispatching. The packet contained a proposal from Cranbury-based iXP Corporation to staff the Lawrence Township Police Department Communications Center for up to five years from April 1, 2013, to March 31, 2018, at an annual cost of $719,400, or $59,950 per month. I do not know how much the dispatcher get paid annually but $719,400 a year is a lot of money. If this contract is passed the township will be paying $3,597,000.00. In my humble opinion this is probably more money than what they would be expending by keeping the current dispatcher. VOTE 'NO'
John January 05, 2013 at 02:16 AM
I'm sure iXP will interview and hire all of the existing dispatchers if they're qualified, it just makes sense, so what's the downside? Especially if it puts two or three more cops on the street instead of having them sit inside being dispatchers. Plus don't private companies usually offer their employees upward career paths if they are good workers? What motivates our dispatchers to do better? This is idea of privatizing dispatch is really forward thinking by Lawrence Twsp. Who knows, they might even become the model for 911 dispatch centers in Mercer County or even througout the State. I've never heard this being done before and having a professional company like iXP, with what looks like an impressive track record in public safety, work with the Twsp seems like a smart idea...PLUS they are right in our back yard!
Patrick January 05, 2013 at 02:48 AM
The red light camera was NOT the townships decision. It was NJDOT and Mercer Co. Rt 1 is a not a Township road.
Teresita Bastides-Heron January 05, 2013 at 03:18 AM
When Christine Todd Whitman was the governor of New Jersey many years ago, she went on and privatized all sorts of government agencies. I remembered one in particular was Motor Vehicles. The service was worse than poor. The lines were long, and it did not work. Why do we think that this is going to work for Lawrence Twp. The State of NJ did not renew any contract with any of those companies that the governor used during her term in office.
Lville Rob January 05, 2013 at 05:59 PM
Patrick, you're incorrect about the red light cameras. The township had to apply to participate in the program and the township council passed a resolution agreeing to the placement of the camera system at that intersection.
Patrick January 05, 2013 at 11:49 PM
It was explained to me that the red light camera program is part of a pilot voted by the NJ House and signed by the Gov, back in 2008, and run by NJ DOT. Lawrence Twp gets checks for their quarter of the fine and admin. But it wasn't something the council nor police went after.
Has Been January 06, 2013 at 01:53 AM
Well stated John. Even if the cost is slightly more then current costs the fact officers will not be used as dispatchers makes it worth it. Comparing DMV with police dispatching is not a good comparison. Sounds like Richard has done is homework. This is an excellent way to guarantee the cost of dispatch services for 5 budget years without a chance of the taxpayers having to pay increased healthcare and pension. A YES vote is a responsible vote.
Shawn January 06, 2013 at 02:23 AM
Privatizing the dispatchers is a no brainer. Vote Yes.
Lville Rob January 06, 2013 at 02:43 AM
Sorry, Patrick, you're wrong. The township applied to be part of the program and the council voted for it. Go to the township web site and go to the minutes of May 17, 2011. You will see at the bottom of page 8 the adoption of the resolution authorizing the installation of the red light camera system. Either you did not understand the explanation someone gave you or the person who gave you the explanation was misinformed or trying to shift responsibility for the red light cameras.
FinLaw January 07, 2013 at 01:00 AM
I agree that it sounds like alot of money but I also agree that locking a fixed cost for the service for 5 years could prove to be cost effective over the term of the contract depending on forecasted cost increases.
Amy January 07, 2013 at 02:09 PM
What motivates our dispatchers to do better is that they often hold citizens' lives in their hands.
Richard January 07, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Isn't this basic math? If $719,400 is more than the annual salaries for 5 dispachers, then vote no. What part of their job descriptions do they not understand?
Richard January 07, 2013 at 03:23 PM
Isn't this basic math? If $719,400 is more than the annual salaries for 5 dispachers, then vote no. What part of their job descriptions do they not understand?
SHSB January 07, 2013 at 03:52 PM
"I'm sure iXP will interview and hire all of the existing dispatchers if they're qualified, it just makes sense, so what's the downside?" How are you sure of this? Having worked inthe industry, I can tell you that these companies almost never hire all of the staff that they displace. They already have employees on the books, and I'm sure they have plenty of people that are part time and per diem who would love to take the full time jobs from the current dispatch staff.
SHSB January 07, 2013 at 03:59 PM
"...the contractor will be responsible for all staffing matters including recruitment, training, performance and discipline." What this tells us is that the Township has no say in who is at the dispatch desk. A dispatcher from the subcontracting company could potentially make a deadly error, and the Township has no recourse, as ALL staffing matters, including discipline, will be the responsibility of the subcontractor. Be prepared for sub-par staff that you cannot get rid of. Do you really want to give that control away? Despite iXP being a local company, I don't know of a single town in the area that uses them for dispatch services. Why is that? iXP is a security consulting firm. They do assessments and make recommendations. From what I can tell, they don't usually actually provide the services, but consult on them and make recommendations. Is Lawrence willing to be their dispatch guinea pigs? http://www.ixpcorp.com/cases.shtml
Blueline January 07, 2013 at 05:39 PM
It won't make sense for the dispatchers to work for this company. Most have upwards of 10 years in the pension which would just go to waste. They will all move on to work at another municipality in the county where the police departments are increasing not downsizing due to fiscal mismanagement
Blueline January 07, 2013 at 05:40 PM
Of course it is. Until of course, you need to call for an emergency
Blueline January 07, 2013 at 05:46 PM
Of course Tricky Dick will not disclose how much the dispatchers make. This is so that the public doesn't cry foul when he hires this company to come in. The fact is, with benefits a top end dispatcher probably costs this town around $80k. Multiply that by the 6 they have and you do the math. $719k sure is a lot huh. Even if the twp supplemented the staff with per diems at around $200 per shift, they wouldn't scrape the surface of the cost this company is charging. Even in a five year plan keeping the dispatchers make fiscal sense. Which is why they won't be kept.
SHSB January 07, 2013 at 07:49 PM
Agree 100% withneverything you said. How can they not disclose what theTownship currently pays for dispatch? The residents have a right to know how their tax dollars are spend. I think a Freedom of Information Act inquiry may be in order here.
Miheal Rhodes January 08, 2013 at 01:47 AM
I am sure the current dispatchers are the ones who are typing most of the comments here. There may be other considerations in the decision by the township besides plain cost. Maybe there are other factors that are being taken into account like keeping the officers out of the dispatch center. Other factors could offset the cost when the whole picture is looked at. Don't be so narrow minded at just looking at the mere contract cost. I personally don't see the township privatizing the dispatchers, I have attended enough council meetings to know political posturing and that is exactly what I call here. I don't think this was ever a real considertion but only an attempt to have the employees give back from their union contracts. We will see tomorrow. Either way I go back to my private sector employment and pay my $680 a month in health care costs. If the town can save a penny I support this. I also question how much the dispatcher really has peoples lives in their hands. Isn't it the cops who really have peoples liives in their hands? I think we are being a bit dramatic
Michael P January 08, 2013 at 09:26 PM
i mean, does a guy who works 35 hours a week need $187,000 annually?
Michael P January 08, 2013 at 09:27 PM
township "manager" (haha, manager as in the mayors boss) talks alot about saving money but he made $187,000 in 2011. so how much could he really support saving money? michael IN LAWRENCE
SHSB January 09, 2013 at 02:42 PM
I'm not a dispatcher, I'm an EMT and my husband is a firefighter. I see firsthand the difference between a good dispatcher and a bad one. Bad ones confuse street names and send us to the wrong location. Imagine if that's your family member who is bleeding out, or choking, or having a heart attack, and I'm sent across town to the wrong address. When people call 911, they are upset, anxious, and extremely hard to understand on the phone. Add in language barriers. I've sat in dispatch centers and am routinely amazed at how dispatchers can actually understand what is being said on the phone under these circumstances. And they're doing this while having to know exactly where every officer, ambulance, and fire truck is at each moment of their shift. And while responding to multiple radio communications--from several police officers, ambulances, and fire trucks--all at once. I've seen dispatchers "forget" to dispatch paramedics for critical patients as well. So yes, dispatchers do have the potential to hold someone's life in their hands. No one notices when the dispatcher is doing a good job, because everything is running smoothly. Trust me when I tell you that we all know when the dispatcher stinks, because the result is chaos, upset, and valuable time lost.
Richard January 10, 2013 at 11:51 AM
$187,000 is alot of money to manage a small township....considering the president of the United States makes $400,000 ! Dispatchers don't have to be police officers, in North Jersey the townships hire trained civilians.
Michael P January 10, 2013 at 11:56 AM
yea so if hes the all loving and caring manager why cant he unstuff his obnoxious salary by 20 grand lol. paaaathetic

Boards

More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »