The Manchester Board of Aldermen recently heard from Manchester Police Chief Tim Walsh on a proposed plan to renew the city's contract with the Ballwin Police Department for police dispatching services.
(Read Previous Story: Police Dispatch Price Shopping Pushed by Manchester Alderman
However, when Walsh explained the proposal to aldermen, Alderman Marilyn Ottenad asked if he'd gotten price quotes from other nearby dispatch centers or police departments.
Other possible options mentioned would be to have dispatch calls go through St. Louis County Police, the West Central Dispatch Center located in the Town and Country Police Department and even the Creve Coeur Police Department.
Walsh said he has not shopped around for better prices primarily because of the geographic relationship and history between the Manchester and Ballwin police departments. He said they have a good working relationship and can "count on each other."
"The cost that they've given us is reasonable and fair. We enjoy common borders and resources," Walsh explained.
Despite the explanation, Ottenad wants the city to shop around before entering into the four-year dispatching contract and she wants Manchester police to compare the cost of combining dispatching with other agencies.
"I don't know if it's a good deal," Ottenad said. "We don't know what somebody else would charge us, because we have no comparison."
Walsh said the dispatching agreement is about more than just money. He said the two cities share borders and they are familiar with each other's streets which helps with response time if additional officers are needed from Ballwin's police department.
"We enjoy what I think is a unique relationship with Ballwin," Walsh said. "You can't only look at it monetarily. We wouldn't find much of a difference in cost."
Walsh said he feels Manchester is too far from Town and Country or Creve Coeur. He also pointed out that Ballwin is a larger department than Town and Country, so it means more officers are available if they are needed. He said even if a different contract saved a few dollars, a new contract could end up increasing the cost to Manchester in the area of personnel because of the distance.
Walsh also said the cost of the dispatching contract is decreasing for 2013 with Ballwin and it will go down again when a new radio system comes in 2014 or 2015.
"It should drop another thirteen thousand dollars," Walsh said.
Mayor David Willson said his personal experience from riding along with Manchester police officers is that they prefer the arrangement with Ballwin.
"They like the Ballwin dispatch, they know the neighborhoods, the streets, the street numbers, the police officers," Willson explained.
It is not clear at this time whether Walsh will contact other agencies for estimates.