Emily De Vito
Updated: January 13, 2020 11:16 PM
Created: January 13, 2020 10:47 PM
ALBANY – Staffing shortages at the 9-1-1 communications center in the City of Albany is something NewsChannel 13 has been reporting on for months. The city is now taking proposals from emergency communications consultants. They want the consultant to come in and look at the problems with dispatch.
"If the police department had the time to do it I'm sure that they're capable of doing it, but we really want them focused on this new police academy, 50 new recruits,” explained Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan.
Sheehan said it’s clear the city has had challenges in keeping the dispatch center fully staffed. She said the city has worked hard the past few months to get the center fully stuffed. The city is budgeted for 39 dispatchers. Currently 27 are staffed and 11 are in training. She said the consultant will look at all aspects of the department, but as far as staffing goes she said they don’t have a problem with finding qualified candidates.
“We have plenty of applicant that's not the issue,” said Sheehan. “The issue is how do we ensure that we're giving them great training and we're making investments we need to be making in our dispatch center to ensure that it is state of the art and that we have good working conditions and we're really attuned to the needs of our dispatchers."
Mayor Sheehan did not yet have a number for how much this will cost the city.
“We need to make this investment, this is something that we really want to be able to get our arms around,” said Sheehan.
However, Albany Police Officer’s Union President Gregory McGee said he thinks hiring a consultant would be a waste of money. The union represents the dispatchers and he said for years they’ve gone to the city with what the problems are.
"More excuses from city hall and now we're going to blame it on training,” said McGee. “They'll do everything they can to skate around the core issue at hand it's the working conditions and the salary."
While the consultant will be looking to address concerns about working conditions, the mayor made no mention of looking at pay. McGee said an Albany dispatcher tops out at around $47,000. If you look at Colonie dispatchers, they’re making more than $65,000.
"Everybody inside city hall gets raises and these employees don't,” said McGee. “It puts us so far behind in terms of salary and benefits compared to the comparable in the area that's why we lose our employees and you can't retain and recruit."
Proposals are due to the city by Friday, Jan. 24. For more information on proposals click here.
To watch Emily DeVito’s investigate piece click here.
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