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July 9, 2013 > Fremont and Union City ponder dispatch merger

Fremont and Union City ponder dispatch merger

By Frankie Addiego

The future of a plan to merge Fremont and Union City's dispatch teams is in question following Union City Chief of Police Brian Foley's presentation of the plan at the June 25th meeting of the Union City City Council.

According to Foley, the merger is being evaluated as both cities plan to upgrade their computer aided-dispatch services to meet Department of Justice standards. Foley presented a summary of a study that he said could reduce dispatching costs by $288,000. "The findings of that study indicated that the three cities [Fremont, Newark, which later dropped out, and Union City] would realize positive economic benefits."

"This project has been in the working for nine years," said Ben Hoffman of the Union City Police Department. According to Hoffman, the project may be completed by the end of the year, but he qualified that saying that would be "an aggressive timeline."

At a June 25th council meeting, a number of dispatchers and their families voiced opposition to the planned merger. Dispatcher Isabel Lopez called it a "slap in the face," a sentiment echoed by many. According to those expressing opinions at the council meeting, the merger would "outsource" dispatchers to Fremont.

While Foley offered that, "our personnel will not be treated as a new employee," a member of the audience noted "they'll have their seniority rights for selecting vacations and their accruals and what-not, [but] in the event that Fremont lays off employees, Union City employees will be the first."

Jobs, however, are expected to be safe within Fremont's dispatch unit. "For our employees, we still have open positions, so there would be no reason for anybody to lose their jobs," said Cheryl LeSage, Communications Manager for the Fremont Police Department.

Following public comment at the council meeting, Union City councilmember Jim Navarro expressed hesitation. "The way it is now," he said, "I'm having trouble supporting this merger."

The plan initially called for Newark to be involved in the dispatch merger, but they eventually declined. City Manager John Becker said, "We decided it was not feasible at this time," but allowed that the city has "not closed the door on it."

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