Friday, May 27, 2016

Woodstock: you knew about this; right?

Woodstock residents have a year, now, to learn exactly where they live and how to explain to someone else where they live.

In a Northwest Herald article today, it comes to light that dispatchers for the Woodstock Police Department will no longer be at 656 Lake Avenue, right in Woodstock, where they ought to know the streets in their own town.

Of course, maybe residents already knew this, because they have been paying close attention to planning by the City Council and plenty of press releases and other information released to city residents. Or maybe the City Council has begun broadcasting City Council meetings on the cable TV service public access channel. You know, in the name of "transparency." Or maybe it has already been announced on the City's website. And maybe I'm the only one who didn't already know about it.

From the paper: "Woodstock City Manager Roscoe Stelford said separate contracts were made because when the city switches to the McHenry County Northeastern Regional Communications Center, or NERCOMM, by May 2017, dispatchers will be City of McHenry employees."

Imagine what will happen when you call for service from the Woodstock PD. Who knows how the phone will be answered?

Will you hear "McHenry County Northeastern Regional Communications Center"? Huh?

Or will you hear NERCOMM and wonder what that is? And hang up?

Or will you still hear "Woodstock Police Department"?

Then imagine asking for help at 500 Lake Avenue.

"You mean Lake Street?"

"No, Lake Avenue."

"Which side of the tracks is that on?"  North? South? East? West? "I dunno. Lake Avenue.

By the time they learn Woodstock streets, your emergency will be over.

There is a monthly report by the police chief to the City Manager, and it used to go into the packet for each City Council meeting. A brief inspection of the new online information for Minutes of City Council meetings did not reveal the full monthly report, but only an abbreviated Report without all the statistics, such as number of tickets issued, number of crimes reported, number of calls for service by the P.D.

Maybe it's there and I just couldn't find it easily. But in those statistics a reader can get an idea of the workload at the P.D. A call-for-service not only involves an officer, but it also involves a dispatcher and one or more other P.D. employees.

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