Calexico City Council will look for grant funding to hire new dispatchers

By Mario Conde

The Calexico City Council will look for grant funding to hire new dispatchers for the City of Calexico.

The City of Calexico is applying for grant monies thru the IID Local Entity to be able to partially fund two emergency service dispatcher positions. The application was prepared by Lt. Gonzalo Gerardo and Economic Development Director Juila Osuna and are hoping funding in the amount of $150,000. The City of Calexico has had an average of 35,000 calls during 2012.

In a memo July 12, 2012 to Measure H Committee from former Police Chief Jin Neujahr stated, “the dispatch center is severely understaffed and the potential for inadequate services was possible due to the lack of staffing. The Calexico Public Safety Communications Center provides emergency communications for the Calexico Police Department, Calexico Fire Department and Calexico 911 Emergency System. This is a 24/7 hours day a week/365 day per year operation. The communications center routinely handles emergency police, fire ambulance/medical aid calls and a mountain of information to requesting callers. The communication center averages between 30,000 to 35,000 calls for service annually.”

The item was discussed by the Measure H commission one year ago where former Chief Jim Neujahr and then Councilmember Bill Hodge requested funding but the discussion on that meeting and by the request of then Mayor Daniel Romero was to hold onto that issues and wait for a response from city administration.

The Public Safety Dispatcher additionally deals with unusual incidents that result from the close proximity to the US/Mexico Border which is unique. At any given time dispatch staff has reached as low as 6 staff members to a high of 11 staff members. Currently the dispatch center has a total of 6 dispatchers, 2 Community Service Officers and 1 Supervisor that serve as dispatchers to cover staffing needs. Our Border City continues to grow a rapid pace and these positions are greatly needed, said Lt. Gonzalo Gerardo.

The grant is due August 30, 2012 and award notification will be by January 1, 2014.  The City of Calexico is applying for this grant with the IID Local Entity to be able to hire two dispatchers and share 50% of the cost for two years. These positions will be provide job creation, workforce development, educational services and social welfare to the City. Calexico Police Chief Pompeyo Tabarez said that if they are able to secure the funding for the dispatchers they will hire them for two years and if the economy and revenues of the City they will hire him through the city. Tabarez added that if they are successful it will eliminate overtime issues with dispatchers since they are understaffed at the moment.

The Council also approved a request from Chief Tabarez in requesting bids to purchase three fully-equipped unmarked police cars. These cars will replace a 2007 seized vehicle with high mileage currently being used by the Chief. The other two vehicles will replace high mileage vehicles used in the investigative division.

“The vehicles currently being used are unreliable, and prone to break down, thus creating unwarranted expenses for repairs and maintenance.” Tabarez said. The vehicles will be paid Asset Forfeiture Funds.

Finally, the Calexico City Council approved a recommendation by Chief Tabarez to enter into an MOU agreement with Immigration Costumes Enforcement (ICE) for assisting them in drug trafficking, human trafficking, and organized crime at the border.