HOOPESTON — People are fighting to bring back their local dispatch center. For years the town had their own service for 911 and non emergency calls, but since September the dispatch center in Danville has been handling those calls, and many aren’t happy about it.
The one they all revolve around is why things can’t go back to the way they were. State 911 services is telling certain counties to cut down to one dispatch center the mayor of Hoopeston says they were not required to close theirs, but at the time but the council decided to make the change. The mayor says he wasn’t expecting this kind of backlash.
If you look on the city council agenda you won’t see anything about 911 services, but it’s become a regular topic of discussion at the meetings.
Bob Charbonneau says, “It’s really important to me that we all kind of get together and work for our community.”
Along with Bob Charbonneau many of these people would rather be greeted by a voice at the Hoopeston police department than someone at the dispatch center in Danville. They’ve been going to meetings for months looking for updates. This time they even brought a petition.
“I really want to know why we’re not proceeding further,” he says.
Aldermen say the council hasn’t given up trying to get answers to their questions. The mayor says concerns led the city to open a discussion with Vermilion County Sheriff and the director of the state’s 911 services.
Mayor Bill Crusinberry says, “I think we all know when you deal with two government entities plus ourselves, things just don’t happen overnight.”
Until those questions are answered the mayor says he doesn’t think the current setup will put safety at risk.
“If the people call 911 it goes to the computer immediately and the call should go out. It should not be a problem.”
The problem many of these people have is knowing there’s a room across the hall capable of handling 911 and non emergency calls. It’s not clear what needs to happen to return to the old system, but Charbonneau says if it’s a matter of money he’d be glad to chip in.
He says, “I’m willing to increase my taxes to make sure that my neighbors have that 911 service”.
Some worry if things don’t change it could mean slower response times from first responders, and it’s not just Hoopeston services who relied the dispatch center. It’s also where Rossville police and fire got their assignments.
Hoopeston is not the only town in the area to close their dispatch center. Rantoul did the same thing a few years ago. All calls for service in Rantoul now go through METCAD in Urbana.