Brookfield, North Riverside and Riverside moved closer to making a consolidated emergency dispatch center a reality with the hiring of Jason A. Rodgers as the new agency’s executive director, following a five-month search process.
West Central Consolidated Communications, or WC3, will be the result of a nearly year-long joint effort involving each village’s managers, police chiefs and fire chiefs to create a central police and fire dispatch agency.
All three villages will pay an equal amount to support the operation of the dispatch center, which will be a separate unit of government with its own board of directors.
In addition to the three charter members of WC3, the village of McCook will pay an annual fee of $150,000 to join the agency as a non-voting member. McCook presently shares a dispatch center with the village of Lyons. The village of Forest View reportedly is also considering joining WC3 as a non-voting partner.
In June 2015, Gov. Bruce Rauner signed a law requiring any municipality with less than 25,000 people to join or form a consolidated dispatch center. The three village’s signed an intergovernmental agreement to create the agency last summer and paid a firm called GovHR $18,500 to conduct a search for WC3’s executive director.
Local officials interviewed two finalists and selected Rodgers, who is communications supervisor for DuPage Public Safety Communications, better known as DUCOMM. His role with DUCOMM, which serves 46 police and fire agencies, includes overseeing day-to-day operations of the dispatch center, supervising telecommunicators, training staff and responding to public inquiries.
Rodgers has worked at DUCOMM since 2001 when he was hired as a dispatcher. He later served as operations manager before moving up the ranks to communications supervisor, which he described as a middle management position at DUCOMM, which also has an executive director and assistant executive director.
“This is really a great opportunity,” said Rodgers. “There are three communities coming together, and I’m not walking into a role that’s already filled. It’s being built from the ground up.”
Riverside Village Manager Jessica Frances who chairs the WC3 executive board, which also includes Brookfield Village Manager Keith Sbiral and North Riverside Village Administrator Guy Belmonte, said Rodgers’ background in operations at DUCOMM and his education (he holds an MBA from the Keller School of Management in addition to a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Iowa made him a standout candidate.
Rodgers’ starting salary is $103,000. His first day on the job will be Jan. 9 and his office will be located at the North Riverside Police Department, whose dispatch center will be used to house WC3 operations.
The state of Illinois has set a deadline of July 1, 2017 for consolidated dispatch centers to begin operations and WC3 is shooting for that, but much work needs to be done before that can happen.
First on Rodgers’ to-do list will be becoming acquainted with dispatchers from the three villages, who will form the core staff of the new agency. The employees now belong to three different union bargaining units and will have to be consolidated into a new union entity for WC3.
He’ll also need to draft policies and procedures for the new dispatch center, train staff to use the record-keeping software, complete information technology infrastructure upgrades to connect all four communities currently involved, de-convert Brookfield and Riverside’s dispatch centers and secure their lobbies, which will no longer be open 24 hours a day.
There’s also a lot of paperwork that the state of Illinois has to process before the agency can go live.
“We hope we can get operations up quickly, but we have to map it out, plan and see how it happens,” Rodgers said.