June 19, 2019

Joint dispatch plans irk some in Rockport

ROCKPORT — Town officials are perturbed that they were left out of a meeting at which a plan for countywide dispatch was discussed.

On Monday night Rockland and Knox County officials discussed the bare bones beginning of a regional dispatch plan.

With the advent of Enhanced 911 services, it will become far more expensive to maintain independent dispatch services, officials said. The plan is to merge all Knox County and Rockland dispatch services, then add other communities.

But city and county officials said Camden and Rockport had no interest in the plan and favor independent dispatching services, even though officials in the two communities have not been asked.

Rockport Town Manager Don Willard blasted the “secret meetings” of the planning team, to which Rockport officials were not invited. Rockport already uses the county for two shifts of dispatch services and has “led the way in regionalization,” the manager said.

“Selectmen have never even discussed this because we were never invited. This is county politics as usual,” Willard said.

“We are apparently a small town and not important enough for the county to notice. I find that a bit offensive and insulting. We certainly are one of the big players when it comes to paying taxes,” the town manager said.

Rockport police Chief Mark Kelley said no decision has been made about dispatch and that when it is made it will be done “in the best interests of the people of Rockport. We want what’s best for Rockport.”

Camden residents will vote Tuesday on an $890,000 proposal to merge town police and fire dispatch services. The town has been discussing merging the two dispatch services for at least 20 years.

Camden Town Manager Roger Moody said the town selectmen have decided against having their own E-911 system to avoid duplication. A committee formed to study the dispatch situation has endorsed the $890,000 merger on the town level. But the panel has already decided against merging police and fire services with any outside agency.

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