Allegheny County dispatch staffing issues mean changes for Mon Valley police departments

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Staffing issues in Allegheny County mean changes for police departments in the Mon Valley.

Eleven police departments will share one 911 dispatch channel next week.

“Any call that gets delayed, a matter of seconds could be a difference between life or death,” McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said.

The mayor opposes the merger, which is set for May 5. He said the consolidation is a safety issue for his 41 full-time officers and the community. 

“It’s not uncommon for us to have 100 or more calls in a 24-hour period,” Cherepko said.

“It’s very irresponsible. I find it very mind-boggling that anyone can really think this is a viable option without putting our officers at risk and all first responders,” he added.

Elizabeth Borough Police Chief William Sombo agrees. 

“We have enough traffic on our channel now,” he said. “We don’t need additional departments.”

A spokesperson for Allegheny County said consolidations have been going on for some time and have been successful. Matt Brown, Allegheny County Department of Emergency Services chief, said the consolidation turns two dispatch desks into one, helping the 911 shortages. 

He added that the additional channel will be ready in certain situations. 

“It provides efficiency for the channel. It provides efficiency for our operations,” Brown said, “primarily due to our staffing needs right now. We are challenged with staffing just like everywhere else.”

“I don’t know what it’s going to take,” Cherepko said. “I sure hope it doesn’t take someone getting seriously hurt or a death before we realize this was the wrong decision.”

Glassport’s police chief told KDKA-TV that he is against the plan, too.

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