West Van police dispatch moving to Vancouver
Calls for help to the West Vancouver Police Department will no longer be answered in West Vancouver come fall.
The department’s eight full-time and eight casual call-takers and dispatchers will be answering West Van’s emergency calls from East Vancouver when the department joins the E-Comm 911 network in October.
Headquartered near the Pacific National Exhibition, E-Comm is the regional police dispatch centre for Metro Vancouver, Sunshine Coast, Whistler, Squamish and the southern part of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.
Making the announcement at a West Van police board meeting last week, WVPD chief Peter Lepine told the board his department’s civilian call-takers and dispatchers would remain dedicated to taking only West Van calls, except in the event that a large-scale emergency demanded otherwise.
“The voices on the line won’t even change,” Lepine assured the police board.
The move to E-Comm is intended to better not only larger emergency coordination efforts, but also day-to-day call-handling and response times given the centre’s superior resources and facilities, Lepine said.
Whereas the West Van police currently have one call-taker and one dispatcher on duty at a time, E-Comm typically has 14 or 15 operators who can jump between departments to pick up extra calls in the event of a local disaster or heavier than usual call volume, according to WVPD spokesman Staff Sgt. Jeff Young.
“Under our old system when we only had one call-taker here, they’d get overloaded and if we have a major incident, usually we can get 10, 20, 30 or 40 911 calls and it just overloads that person,” Young said.
WVPD’s decision follows a two-year analysis by senior staff that examined a number of options for dispatch including maintaining the service within the department. The analysis concluded that by joining E-Comm the department would make major gains in terms of risk mitigation, sustainability and cost savings, according to a WVPD press release.
The West Vancouver Police Board endorsed the transition to E-Comm at its June 27 meeting.
West Vancouver’s fire services and BC Ambulance are already dispatched out of E-Comm, meaning by October, all 911 calls from West Vancouver will be answered in Vancouver.