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Modesto Police Considering Leaving 911 Partnership Over Cost, Safety Concerns

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MODESTO (CBS13) — The Modesto Police chief says 911 services in the area are not good enough, and is contemplating leaving a decades-long partnership.

The Stanislaus County 911 center answers emergency calls for almost all of Stanislaus County, but Chief Galen Carroll is concerned it’s not able to handle Modesto’s calls, creating safety and cost concerns.

“The issue is just that the center is understaffed, so there is not enough dispatchers or call-takers to handle the volume of calls coming in as well as radio traffic,” Carroll said.

He says it results in delays for both officers and 911 callers getting information they need. He says a $50,000 study proves his point, indicating staff is demoralized and the cost of running the center is out of control at more than $7 million a year. Similar county operations run around $5 million a year.

Stanislaus County CEO Stan Risen contends that study is riddled with inaccuracies.

“I was surprised and confused when I found out about this report,” he said. “I’m very proud of our 911 staff and they have very stressful and challenging jobs and do a great job day in and day out.”

He says like any agency, rising health and pension costs have resulted in higher budgets.

“I think every organization has opportunities have room for improvement,” he said.

But he insists the Modesto Police Department needs to work toward a solution, rather than leave the county partnership when the contract ends in 2019.

The chief says he’s not so sure, saying leaving would likely be more cost-effective for the department. He plans to recommend leaving the partnership in 2019, and consider joining with some of the other towns that aren’t a part of the current partnership.

Risen says if Modesto pulls out, they will continue to serve the rest of the county that it covers, but it would likely have to cut staffing.

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