Southfield considers outsourcing 911 dispatch to Oakland County

The City of Southfield is looking into shutting down its 911 dispatch service and outsource it to Oakland County. 

The idea came as a big surprise to many at Monday night's City Council meeting. 

"Our emergency services is not a commodity, it's not something to be shipped out and dealt with by somebody else. We're talking about public safety here," one resident said at the meeting. 

According to a study by Plante Moran, which presented its findings to the Council, the move would save Southfield more than $5 million over five years. 

But many question, at what cost? 

"Everything we know of, from people switching over to county dispatch, it wouldn't be the same as having our own in-house people doing our dispatches. It will delay police and fire," says Robert Scott with the Southfield Firefighter Union. 

Lathrup Village mayor Kelly Garrett says a resident gave her a heads up about the idea. The Village is paying Southfield more than $100,000 over two years handle its dispatch service.

"To me, Lathrup Village needed to be at the table prior to making any kind of decisions to at least let us know," she says. "How I feel tonight [at the City Council meeting] is very disappointed."

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Plante Moran did not consult Southfield's police or fire chiefs about the implications of the move while conducting its study. It's unclear how it impact response and call wait times; Plante Moran does not know how many calls Oakland County dispatches now, and it's unclear how many of Southfield's roughly 72,000 annual calls are overflows from Oakland County. The city serves as the county's backup.

"To save a million dollars a year for public safety for our dispatch, I don't know if it's worth risking the lives of our residents, our visiters, of our business community just to save a million dollars. I'd rather save money somewhere else or find ways to generate revenue," says City Council President Pro Tem Michael Mandelbaum.

City Council President Daniel Brightwell says there's no timeframe right now for making the decision, but it could be 6 months to a year down the road. Until then, the Council will continue weighing the pros and cons.