Back in December of 2007, former Indiana Gov. Joe Kernan and Indiana Supreme Court Justice Randall T. Shepard released documents outlining how the state could streamline many aspects of local government for a more effective and efficient system overall.
It was greeted with cheers and rolls of the eyes. In the report, Kernan and Shepard suggested the reorganization of small school corporations, a shift toward more appointed positions rather than elected ones and a shift away from township government. Among other things, the report calls for the consolidation of 9-1-1 call and dispatch centers so that there are no more than two per county. That recommendation actually made it into law three years ago with an imposed deadline for compliance set for the end of 2014.
While we don’t agree with everything outlined in the Kernan-Shepard report (township government is an editorial for another day), we do believe the report was a sharp and constructive set of eyes aimed at weeding out some of the comfortable inefficiencies that have consistently been glossed over in the past.
We are grateful for the 9-1-1 dispatchers who work at the call centers in Elkhart County. Their presence and dedication has no doubt helped save lives and thwart criminal activity because they were able to get the most complete and timely information to rescue and law enforcement officials. This is not like taking dine-out orders over the phone. It is much more complicated than that. Assembling accurate, appropriate and timely information during the most stressful, traumatic and frightening moments of people’s lives is a skill few of us can really imagine.
Currently Elkhart County has three dispatch centers — Elkhart city, Nappanee and the remainder of the county. It simply makes sense for the Nappanee center to be absorbed into the county. It will save money without jeopardizing lives and safety.
Certainly the Kernan-Shepard Report has a few misses between its covers, but this isn’t one of them.