Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ administration is seeking proposals to price check the possibility of privatizing the city’s 911 dispatch service.
“This is more as a gauge,” Torres told a mostly skeptical city council last week. He said the city is “testing the market” at the suggestion of the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs (DCA) which approved the recent reorganization of the police department.
Existing employees will be hired by the contracting firm to avoid displacement, said Torres.
Council members unanimously approved the administration’s request to seek proposals to privatize the dispatch service while speaking against it.
“I’m not a fan of privatization,” said Michael Jackson, 1st Ward councilman.
“I’m not prepared to give up on Paterson residents,” added council president William McKoy. “Folks need jobs.” He suggested civilianizing the dispatch room. He said the school district made a mistake outsourcing both the security and janitorial staff suggesting the city should not do the same.
One council member spoke in support of the measure. “I think this is a must,” said Luis Velez, 5th Ward councilman.
“This is to see if we can get more bang for our buck,” said acting police chief Troy Oswald. “This is just to see if it’s a better way of doing things.”
The council late last year agreed to borrow $1.56 million (with intrest) to make upgrades to the city’s public safety communications system. Part of it includes a new computer aided dispatch system.