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Grandview Council OKs process to bring new police dispatcher on board

GRANDVIEW - There are four full-time dispatchers currently working for the Grandview Police Department. Police Chief Dave Charvet went before city council last night to discuss the need for a fifth full-time dispatcher.

He told the council last year there were 550 overtime hours logged due to sickness, and another 440 hours due to vacations. Holiday scheduling required dispatchers to work 528 hours of overtime in 2008. The city paid its dispatchers an overall 1,387 hours of overtime last year.

Because of this, Charvet expressed the opinion that another full-time dispatcher would save the city money.

He said the use of a part-time dispatcher last year helped keep costs down, but that dispatcher covered a total of 583 hours at a regular rate and still much overtime pay for the full-time dispatchers was necessary.

Charvet told Grandview City Council members the cost to hire an entry-level dispatcher would be approximately $43,600. That is just more than $1,000 in excess of what was spent on overtime pay. However, it would have cost the city nearly $56,000 in overtime pay if the part-time dispatcher had not been available. It would have also required officers on duty to be pulled from patrol duties to cover dispatching duties had the part-time employee not been on the payroll.

As it was, there were some man hours spent by officers covering dispatch.

"When you put the figures together it would more than be worthwhile to have another dispatcher and it would allow the dispatchers and officers to catch up on documentation," said Charvet, explaining paperwork has gotten behind in the past year because of a lack of personnel.

Councilwoman Pam Horner praised Charvet's willingness to provide the council with the figures and data, and after further discussion she also agreed it would be in the city's best interest to hire a new dispatcher.

City Administrator Scott Staples told the council the process to hire a dispatcher will take a minimum of 90 days. He said the city doesn't currently have a civil service eligibility list because it has both expired and been depleted.

As a result, he recommended the list be established and said, "We won't be able to hire anyone until July."

Because a dispatcher must pass the civil service exams, submit to a polygraph and a psychological exam, as well as go to corrections academy, Charvet said it is not easy to ask people to apply to be on the list without knowing if there will be a job available.

"We have had difficulty getting quality personnel to apply when all we wanted to do was establish the eligibility list," he told council.

Councilman Jessie Palacios said, "For me it's a no-brainer...we save approximately $10,000...and when we are talking public safety, we are talking about our number one priority."

He said the concern of council is the continued costs of a full-time employee as budgets become tighter.

Mayor Norm Childress said it is a tough decision and tougher decisions in the future may need to be made because hiring a full-time dispatcher will add to the personnel to be considered if and when possible cuts are considered.

The council, weighing the facts though, approved the process of establishing the civil service eligibility list with the intent of hiring a full-time dispatcher.

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