Four public meetings scheduled to hear from first responders, state residents

The Vermont Department of Public Safety would like to hear from first responders and members of the public as part of the process of enacting a fee structure for dispatch services through Vermont State Police Public Safety Answering Points.

Dispatchers most often are the first contact that people have with the Vermont State Police and the 100-plus agencies for whom we provide dispatch services. VSP dispatch centers are staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide emergency and nonemergency support to the people of Vermont. This means we answer every phone call, assess the safety needs of callers, and dispatch a wide array of resources to the public.

Currently the two state police PSAPs dispatch for more than 100 municipal agencies in addition to the Vermont State Police, accounting for half of all call volume. There is no charge for this service. However, other agencies that also offer dispatching services set a fee for service on participating agencies, creating inequitable disparities across the state and preventing the Department of Public Safety from providing dispatch services for additional agencies. The fee structure for Vermont State Police dispatching services would even out these disparities.

This past January, the Department of Public Safety included a dispatch fee structure as part of a suite of law enforcement modernization proposals that would set a rate of a per-call cost. The cost would be calculated based on the total cost of dispatch staff divided by the total calls for service. The fee structure would be phased in over five years: No charge in FY21; 25% in FY22; 50% in FY23; 75% in FY24; 100% in FY25.

In August, the state police wrote to the heads of all police, fire, EMS and other agencies affected by this plan to seek their feedback. In addition, the Vermont Legislature has directed that additional opportunities take place for first-responder and public feedback. Four online sessions have been scheduled:

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