HUDSON: Police Chief Dave Robbins was the first to participate in a new city council initiative.
Over the coming year, various city department heads will visit council during workshop sessions.
Council President David Basil said that the purpose of the visits is to give council a more in-depth understanding of the various departments at a level beyond that permitted during budget meetings.
Much of the discussion Tuesday between Chief Robbins and council members concerned the dispatch system.
Robbins said the department has five full-time and five part-time dispatchers. They are responsible for all 911 calls to police, fire and EMS. At times, all three departments may be dispatched to a scene simultaneously. Other city departments may also be brought in if needed.
Robbins said that a previous ditch collapse brought in the service department to assist in attempting to free a victim trapped in the earth.
Council member J. Dan Williams said that he was permitted to spend time with dispatchers and observe their work last year. He said he was “very impressed” by their knowledge of the locality.
Robbins explained how the dispatch department works. It covers Hudson only, as opposed to a regional system.
All 911 lines "are allocated by the state," Robbins said. He added Hudson does not control the number of lines they are given. There is an automatic rollover to neighboring departments if dispatch is overwhelmed in the face of a major occurrence.
The department has two lines dedicated for employees and administrators to be able to contact the department if all 911 and non-emergency lines are in use.
Council member Alex Keleman inquired about Hudson's possible participation in a regional dispatch system that would combine services and employees to cover several cities.
Chief Robbins said that they have had three "go-arounds" with such a proposal in the past five years.
Both Robbins and City Manager Anthony Bales said the idea has been rejected for financial reasons.
There would be no immediate financial savings and a regional system would be costly.
Robbins estimates that it would be at least 10 years before any savings would be realized. He said they have never fully worked out what those savings would be.
In addition, there were concerns over the quality of service of a system that involved multiple cities.
"Our 911 is very local," Bales said. "It serves the community as it wants to be served."
When asked to look ahead to future departmental financial needs, Robbins said that he believes they can maintain their current level of service.
If there were budget constraints, the criminal matters would take precedence and services such as vacation checks, alarms, vehicle and home lockouts and private property accident reports could be curtailed.
At present, Robbins saw no need to institute any changes or reduction in the services Hudson residents have come to expect.
Robbins said that Hudson's crime statistics are low for a community of its size and population.
He said that the majority of crimes committed in Hudson are crimes against property, not people. Thefts, criminal mischief and breaking and entering are the most common crimes.
With regard to crimes against people, simple assault and domestic violence are the two most frequent.
Robbins said in the past five years they have seen an increase in the use of heroin and heroin overdoses among those between the ages of 20 and 30.
With regard to methamphetamine, he said there have been a couple of suspected meth houses in their jurisdiction, but no fires or other incidents.
Rather than a large production center for the drug, Robbins said the public is more likely to see what he calls a “shake and bake.”
People are creating small amounts of meth using plastic containers and cold medicines purchased over the counter. He said they have found debris from these activities at the side of the road.
Robbins said Hudson residents and parents have a high level of awareness as to drug and alcohol abuse issues in the community.