Poll: Should Leicester Join Worcester's Regional Dispatch?

  • Comments (4)
Should Leicester join Worcester's Regional Dispatch? Weigh in by taking The Daily Voice Poll.
Should Leicester join Worcester's Regional Dispatch? Weigh in by taking The Daily Voice Poll. Photo Credit: Daniel Castro

LEICESTER, Mass — As Leicester considers joining its police, fire and EMS dispatching with Worcester's Regional Dispatch Center to cut costs, some residents are concerned that the move could cause Leicester 911 calls to get lost in the shuffle of city emergencies.

Poll

Should Leicester join Worcester's Regional Dispatch?

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Reader Results

Should Leicester join Worcester's Regional Dispatch?

  • Yes

    21%
  • No

    79%
Back to Vote

Residents spoke out against the proposed change at the selectmen's meeting Monday. Concerns included the risk of locking the doors of the current Leicester Police Station and how to lock up prisoners in an unmanned station, as well as whether it would be harder to get Leicester calls through to dispatch while sharing lines with the second largest city in New England.

Worcester has 58 dispatch staff, with an increase based on the number of communities that participate in the regionalization agreement.

Still, some residents said getting through to Worcester 911 has been difficult in the past.

"Worcester does not respond to phone calls," said Leicester resident Jim DiCentes. "They don't answer the phone most of the time, and they'll put you on hold during emergencies."

Though Police Chief Jim Hurley says the decision on regionalization is difficult, he said the police department is in a dire financial situation.

"The bottom line is the police department's budget right now is $600 less than it was in 2009, my costs in personnel have increased four times over four years, costs are going up, we have eight part-time police officers on layoff and we have an unfilled position as a full-time officer approaches retirement," said Hurley.

But his No. 1 concern was ensuring that jobs were waiting for Leicester's dispatchers, he said.

Although the agreement would allow spots for Leicester's four full-time employees at the dispatch center, their salaries and benefits would not carry over.

"We have our own collective bargaining union," said David Clemens, director of Worcester Emergency Communications. "What we can do and what we've done in the past is if someone comes to us with experience, we're able to adjust salary from entry level to something that's proportionally higher. But with benefits, seniority and everything, our dispatchers have a collective bargaining agreement now, so that's what they'd be entered into."

Should Leicester join Worcester's Regional Dispatch? Weigh in by taking The Daily Voice Poll.

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Comments (4)

I do not think that we should join the Worcester Regional dispatch because what does worcester know about our streets, areas or township. We need to keep out town police responsible for our town. I like knowing when I call the police station its either men who live here and care about our town. We need to give out Police a budget so they can hire the help they need, if they need cleaning help for the police station hire it, I was shocked to hear our chief cleans toilets. are you kidding. What is wrong here. We are a small town who care about out neighbors lets keep it like that.

Now that you bring it to my mind, what's to stop the police station for having a volunteer based community that can do some of these things. The Baseball field behind is self sustaining. People volunteer their time and efforts to keep it up, and the snack shack and raffle tickets pay for the upkeep. Is there some way that this type of voluntary service could be implemented by members of our community who truly care about the town?

I'm not opposed to it, but my question remains what about overnight lockups? Is Leicester going to spend more money in overnight lockups and transportation of people to Worcester? Ruth Kaminski was reported in the last article of mentioning that if you were followed at night by a car and pulled into the police station you might be greated with a locked door. That's something to not overlook. Ultimately the question, if this wasn't pursued, would need to come down to who pays for the continued service? As the Chief commented above the police budget hasn't improved in recent years. Leicester cut the fat years ago, the only thing left to cut is muscle and bone. We are being forced now to request of the services that were considered "must haves" which are now the most important "must haves." The question has always been coming, but now it's an "in your face" question to answer. It can't be put off any longer.

I believe Worcester ditched their auto theft division, and not to mention, I took a bike there that had been abandoned on the property for weeks, the man behind the window rolled his eyes, came out to get the bike, and said " you know, we have hundreds of bikes in here, we don't even investigate bike thefts". Is that what we want for Leicester?