WMU public safety set to switch to countywide consolidated dispatch

Contact: Paula M. Davis

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A plan to centralize public safety answering points across Kalamazoo County, bringing the Western Michigan University Department of Public Safety and four other police departments' dispatch operations under one roof, will be fully implemented by the end of October.

Each of the five police departments involved will transition to the centralized dispatch system one at a time, starting at 7 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Under the system, 911 calls from around the county will be answered in one central location, and campus calls for assistance will still lead to responses by WMU's public safety officers, says WMU Department of Public Safety Chief Scott Merlo.

"The change will be seamless," Merlo says. "The campus community will still get excellent service, with some improvements."

Merlo says that the new system is expected to improve response time and prevent emergency calls or texts made on cellphones from being forwarded from one department to another.

And nonemergency calls for an officer or other assistance--including assistance related to facilities need--will also receive the same level of service campus community members have come to expect, he says.

How the change will affect campus calls for assistance

When WMU public safety joins consolidated dispatch:

  • All campus 911 calls will go to Kalamazoo County Central Dispatch;
  • Campus calls for police assistance will continue to result in the dispatch of WMU public safety officers to respond to campus incidents and reports;
  • Calls from the 118 campus "blue light" emergency call boxes will go directly to the dispatch center and be conveyed to WMU public safety officers;
  • Calls to (269) 387-5555—the campus' traditional public safety contact number—will result in an automated answer that can route calls to an emergency line, to speak to an officer during business hours or to make a facilities-related request; and
  • The new nonemergency phone number for the consolidated dispatch center is (269) 488-8911.

The transfer of dispatch activities to the new central location will mean that the lobby of the WMU Department of Public Safety at 511 Monroe St. will be open only during normal business hours. Requests for attention to facilities needs and nonpolice matters can also be made to a 24-hour automated phone line, (269) 387-8514.

In addition to the WMU Department of Public Safety, the cooperating police departments using the new center are the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, Kalamazoo Township Police Department, the Kalamazoo County Sheriff's Office and the Portage Department of Public Safety.

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