COLUMBIANA, Ohio (WKBN) – The city of Columbiana is looking to change its dispatch center.
Some say staffing shortages are the cause.

The county dispatch would become the main dispatch for the city. Attorney Danielle Chaffin says the decision was kept from people who needed to know.

“The fire chief and EMS chief did not even know that they were going to do this. They weren’t consulted about it at all. The police department found out about 24 hours in advance that the proposal would be made but not that it would be passed as an emergency ordinance,” Chaffin said.

A staffing issue is the main reason for the change. Columbiana City Dispatch only has two full-time dispatchers and one part-time dispatcher. City manager Lance Willard says applications have been submitted, but none of them are “plug and play ready.”

“It is a very, very difficult job; a very stressful job. Lots of training is necessary for that. You have to be a special type of person to do that,” Willard said.

However, Chaffin says there have been trained applicants for jobs at the city’s dispatch center.

“There is a part-time police officer right now who has been asking to go as a full-time dispatcher. She’s already been trained, so she could start immediately. They will not hire her,” Chaffin said.

Willard says patrolmen have covered dispatcher shifts. He says a centralized dispatch will be better for the city.

“It’s a long-term solution. Many of our other entities around Northeastern Ohio are going to centralized dispatching,” Willard said.

County officials will meet this week to discuss the dispatch transition. Willard says the city is helping place their current dispatchers at new jobs.