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North Miami Beach police plan county partnership for dispatch service

In an effort to cut back on costs and hire more police officers, the North Miami Beach Police Department plans to partner with Miami-Dade County and use its dispatch services to aid the force.

The County Commission approved an agreement between Miami-Dade and North Miami Beach in July that would give the city access to the county’s computer-aided dispatch system. The agreement is set to last until 2025.

The system sends call information from Miami-Dade dispatchers to officers in the field through mobile data terminals. The call details are also announced to officers through a two-way radio.

North Miami Beach Police Chief Scott Dennis described the change at a recent council meeting and said it will give the department more information and resources when responding to calls and allow them to hire additional officers.

The department spent about $1 million on communications this fiscal year with about $695,000 of the spending going to salaries. The switch is expected to lead to a decrease of four full-time staff members.

“We are able to take those resources from those empty positions that we currently have in our dispatch center to translate those into uniforms and boots on the street,” Dennis said at the July 21 meeting.

The city has budgeted hiring two new officers in the coming fiscal year; eight officers were hired this past year.

The city is required to pay back the county for network connectivity costs and other support applications. The one-time cost for the dispatch workstation hardware, software and installation is about $4,800. The annual recurring cost is about $3,000.

Dennis said the switch has not officially taken place and there will be a transition period for the city’s current communications staff.

“We’ll work to make it a very smooth transition; it will be phased in,” Dennis said at the meeting.

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