911 System Cost Savings Are No Joke
Emergency 911 call centers represent one of the clearest opportunities in Missouri to combine regional services. It is a vital public service ripe for cost savings and technological improvements via system sharing or consolidation. The Post-Dispatch has an update on the proposal to combine the City of St. Louis’s three different 911 centers into one centralized system. I think this is a great plan for the city to upgrade the current system and save money. We don’t need a bunch of small, independent 911 call centers. Larger, well-staffed centers with top technology are what we need in this area. This is not like other government services where there are trade-offs between the tax savings due to economies of scale with larger service providers and the preferred service benefits of smaller operations closer to residents and taxpayers.
The Post-Dispatch story notes that some politicians and employee unions are upset that they have not been included in these plans so far. Fine, include them in the planning going forward. Problem solved. But don’t let them—especially the employee unions— stymie this plan. I don’t see why they would—there are so many vacancies in the current 911 systems that I would be surprised if any jobs would get cut. If employee unions have constructive ways to improve the 911 system changes, then we should listen to them. If the Board of Aldermen does its job and asks tough questions about the plan, then those questions should be answered.
But keep the new plan moving forward. This is the low-hanging fruit of changes that could improve public safety for the people of St. Louis and save tax dollars at the same time.