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Lake Dallas police contract with county for communication, dispatch services

The Lake Dallas Police Department soon will receive emergency communication and dispatch services from the Denton County Sheriff's Department.

On Tuesday, Denton County commissioners approved an interlocal agreement for the services. The contract takes effect Aug. 15 and goes through Sept. 30, 2018.

In an effort to save more than $200,000 in operating costs annually, the Lake Dallas City Council voted unanimously last month to eliminate its dispatch and jail operations  and contract with the county and the Town of Little Elm, respectively, for the services.

Matt Shaffstall, Lake Dallas city manager, said if the city continued in-house communication and dispatch services, it would need to invest more than $100,000 in capital improvement technology upgrades and spend about $300,000 to staff and operate its communications center.

The city is embracing "regional policing," Shaffstall said, and the agreement with the county will allow it do so.

"We're really excited and really thankful that the county and sheriff would partner with us," he said.

According to the communication and dispatch agreement, Lake Dallas will pay the county $60,458 for services, including answering emergency and routine calls around the clock from the public, directing the calls to first responders and providing on-going communication to emergency personnel in the field. Lake Dallas will become one of more than 30 agencies the county has an interlocal agreement for communication and dispatch services with. Each agency pays an annual fee based on the workload it generates, according to county documents.

Police Chief Dan Carolla, who is attending a conference this week, was unavailable for comment. In a city statement last month, he explained the benefits to the city partnering with the county for dispatch services.

"This is the best thing our city can do for officer safety," he said. "These changes improve our officer's situational awareness, while allowing us to provide a higher quality of police service."

Currently, landline calls are dispatched to the Lake Dallas Police Department ,and cellphone calls go to the county before being redirected to the police department, Lake Dallas police Lt. Vikki Chandler said. The agreement with the county "will significantly improve" technology and allow Lake Dallas officers to receive more detailed information about the calls they're responding to.

"The benefit of this is no matter where you call from, you'll immediately get Denton County [dispatch]," Chandler said. "We expect to have quicker response times to calls."

On May 5, the Little Elm Town Council approved a one-year agreement with Lake Dallas in which it will provide jail services for Class C misdemeanor municipal warrants at $50 per prisoner. If a prisoner remains in the Little Elm jail more than 24 hours, Lake Dallas will be required to pay $25 per day for "housing, safe guarding personal property, providing meals and 24-hour monitoring," according to the agreement. Lake Dallas will be responsible for transporting its prisoners to the jail, collecting and processing fines and bonds, and the Lake Dallas Municipal Court judge or a designee will be responsible for conducting arraignments for the city's prisoners.

The contract with Little Elm for jail services takes effect June 1.

BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876.

FEATURED PHOTO: Lake Dallas Police Chief Dan Carolla demonstrates the features of a fully equipped police vehicle for city council members last month.