Below letter to the general public of Salem County written by and from Bob Gant, President of Salem County Fraternal Order of Police and this was denied publication on behalf of the Salem County FOP by the print local newspaper.
Important Information regarding Salem County Budget for 2016 and proposed privatization of dispatch center, jail, and other services.
Salem County Fraternal Order of Police, New Jersey
Residents of Salem County,
On behalf of the Salem County FOP and our 350 members, we ask you to get involved in what’s going on at the County level. This Freeholder Board is making moves to rid this County of valuable assets. These decisions need to be more transparent to the public before it is too late. How many years in a row do we have to hear that this County is sinking as we have no big business which measures ratables. Each year we lose businesses and have to look at more and more abandoned homes due to lack of business and job loss.
You have to ask yourself, what is this county doing to attract any business? Now, once again, the county has not settled nor approved a budget for 2016 and look to take it out of the hard working county employees. The Freeholders are talking about privatizing the county jail, medical staff at the county jail, and the employees at our 911 dispatch center. We don’t feel this is the answer, but, rather, we believe County Officials are using Salem County employees as a scapegoat for their lack of budget and financial planning. All this will do is create more job loss for our Salem County residence to bring in “For Profit” companies.
The County has already put out bids for these outside services without you knowing about it. We have done research on this and found no proofs that privatizing saves any money. It’s not hard to do, go online and search all the horror stories privatizing have to offer. When most fail, the State then has to take over at which point will cost billions of dollars. Privatizing drives up many hidden costs including law suits. If the Freeholders claim they will save money in privatizing these services, then we challenge them to make those studies or results public!
We do not need outside contractors coming into our county taking our jobs that don’t reside here and therefore don’t contribute in paying taxes in Salem County. We can’t give away and lose control of what we have.
The latest idea the Freeholders have is to allow Gloucester County to take over our 911 dispatch center. The County has pushed hard to promote shared services where all the Salem County municipalities came together (except one) in joining a regional police dispatch center under one roof and ran by Salem County. The Salem County 911 center in Mannington Township now handles all other municipalities’ calls for police, fire and EMS. This includes Penns Grove Fire Department and EMS.
Photo from Salem County Sheriff’s Website in which it states: “The Salem County Communications Center mission is to serve and protect the public and first responders we serve by providing the vital communications link between the community and the emergency first responders.” (Added by Editor)
The county budgeted $1.6 million for 911 emergency management services in 2015. Each town now pays Salem County for dispatch services based on their respective calls for service for all police, fire and EMS calls. With all this hard work and bringing all the towns together to share dispatch services, why would we want to let Gloucester County take over our 911 dispatch center?
Gloucester Dispatchers are paid around 8 to 10 thousand more than Salem County dispatchers; plus Salem County spent around a ½ million dollars on our county wide Enforsys system which is specific to Salem County to create our (CAD) Computer Aided Dispatch, Records Management System, Inter and Intra-Agency Sharing. Basically, this is the system in which all Salem County police, fire and EMS all communicate through and use for reporting.
Gloucester County does not use this system; they use a system called ProPhoenix. This would affect all Salem County police, fire and EMS as we are also on a different radio band and operating system. Our equipment would not be compatible. There would have to be a huge cost in setting up some type of microwave or relay to help connect both counties. Gloucester could end up charging the towns more money for dispatch services.
This makes no sense to us as we just brought all our dispatching services under one roof and paid around ½ $Million dollars on our Salem County wide CAD service. If we allow our Freeholders to give away the farm to Gloucester County, this could affect Public Safety.
Our Salem County Dispatchers are a very professional group that know this County and reside here. They are familiar with our residents, roads and officers. A Gloucester Dispatcher would waist valuable time trying to elicit information from a caller who could not explain where they were because they would not be familiar with our many rural areas.
Also, Salem County is home to one of the largest Nuclear Generating Stations in the country with many policies and protocol attached to our 911 center for PSEG that would probably all have to be re-written. For obvious public safety reasons, we need our Salem County Dispatchers to remain working in and for Salem County.
We are supporting Communications Workers Local 1085, all our Salem County Law Enforcement Officers and the residence of Salem County. We are tired of the job loss in this county and outside contractors moving in. We do not see any cost savings in any of this; in fact, we have millions of dollars invested.
We ask the residents to get involved and even attend the next Freeholder meeting on Wednesday April 20th 7pm at LAC township building next to the LAC Police Department. We need your help to better serve you. Get involved now while Salem County still owns its jail and 911 dispatch center.
If you wake up tomorrow, we could be paying “Rent”!
President – Salem County FOP, NJ
(Any views or opinions in this Letter to the Editor do not reflect any views or opinions of The News of Salem County LLC. Bob Gant is The Salem County Fraternal Order of Police President.)