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Budget cuts force IPFW to rely on 911

– The Fort Wayne-Allen County 911 call center will take over the dispatching duties of the IPFW Police Department beginning July 1 as part of the university’s budget cuts.

H. Jay Harris, IPFW director of the physical plant and campus safety, said the move, agreed to Tuesday, is necessary because of ongoing reductions to the university’s workforce.

IPFW has four dispatchers, down from five, and those jobs will cease to exist as of June 30, Harris said.

The dispatchers were told several weeks ago and given permission to look for other jobs, Harris said.

One has already taken a job with the city-county 911 center, he said.

The merger will not affect the campus police department, which has about 18 officers who work three shifts, said Tony Colone, interim IPFW police chief.

IPFW officials and members of the Consolidated Communications Partnership board, which oversees the call center, agreed Tuesday to draw up an agreement outlining the terms and services.

Although the agreement does not officially begin until July 1, the 911 call center began dispatching for the university on third shift and for all emergency calls beginning Monday, said Tim Lee, executive director of the Consolidated Communications Partnership.

The university has a low-range call volume, and the end result would be to provide a community service and ensure campus security, Lee said.

Right now the campus gets 1,687 calls during a typical school year, and few of those are actual emergencies, Harris said.

“It’s mostly for things like a flat tire, locking keys in a car or to turn on lights,” he said.

“We believe that we need to work out a temporary arrangement to bridge the time frame until your new dispatch center is completed,” Harris said.

Harris suggested that IPFW’s dispatch center be used for special localized events or as a backup to the primary operations.

The 911 call center will move from the basement of the Rousseau Centre, formerly the City-County Building, to the sixth floor, which is being renovated.

The city and county also are in the process of replacing the backbone of the 911 call center – the public safety communications system – at a cost of about $17 million. That system and the new call center are expected to be operational by November, Lee said.

IPFW will pay the Consolidated Communications Partnership an annual fee for the services, but the fee has not yet been finalized.