Tuesday, May 8 was the big switchover for four communities — Brookfield, Riverside, North Riverside and McCook – partnering on West Central Consolidated Communications, or WC3.

WC3 is a joint emergency dispatch center that will handle all fire and police calls for all four communities. We say “will” because as of this writing just before noon on May 8, all four local emergency dispatch desks were staffed as the transition to WC3 took place.

It wasn’t as simple as flipping a switch and automatically changing over to the new central dispatch center inside the North Riverside Police Department. There was a lot of data migrating over the course of Tuesday, and it was a process that was expected to take hours to complete.

“Everything is going as planned,” said Brookfield Deputy Police Chief Ed Petrak on Tuesday morning.

Riverside Village Manager Jessica Frances also said Tuesday morning that WC3 was expected to be fully functional by May 9 and that the plan was to lock the lobby to the police station, as planned, at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. 

However, anyone walking into the secure vestibule of the police station can contact emergency personnel by a phone there. Brookfield will staff its front desk throughout the night Tuesday into Wednesday, said Petrak, “Just in case something happens.”

Frances reiterated that residents should get used to calling 911 if they want to reach police immediately. While dialing the non-emergency numbers for police and fire will still be answered during business hours, calling that number after hours will send you to a prompt giving options.

For immediate connection for any emergency – police, fire or public works – after hours, you should call 911.

Of course, residents in Riverside can also reach village officials through the Riverside Responds app, and Brookfield residents looking for assistance that may not be an emergency after hours can email to help@brookfieldil.gov.

North Riverside police dispatch center – which is where WC3 is located – will be staffed 24 hours a day.

In Riverside, the move to consolidated dispatch dovetails with the ongoing look at the village’s public facilities, particularly the outdated police and fire headquarters. While officials have informally talked about the future of the village’s municipal campus near the township hall, there’s a very intentional effort under way.

This summer, it looks like residents will get their chance to provide input on how or if Riverside should move ahead to modernize or even replace its public safety facilities. Such a project could also be an opportunity to consolidate all of the village’s public safety and administrative functions in one place.

But, any such plan is sure to be expensive and decisions made regarding such facilities will have decades-long impact. So if Riverside is going to take that leap, residents and officials need to make sure they get it right.