Dispatch center completes move to UNH Police headquarters

By Melissa Proulx
On January 28, 2014

After more than three decades, the UNH Police Department and Dispatch Center are once again living together as a cohesive force under the same roof.

"It is the first time in over 30 years that our department family is whole, with all of us under one roof: police, non-sworn campus service officers and dispatchers. ... The family is [together again], and we can better serve the community," Detective Eric Kulberg of the UNH Police Department said. 

The UNH Police Department's dispatch center made the move to its 18 Waterworks Road location in Durham back in early December. Due to budget constraints, the move was not simultaneous with the rest of the force, who relocated to  the building back in August of 2012.

 

Acting as the central hub for the department, the Dispatch Center is open 24/7, answering more than 36,000 calls last year alone from police officers and campus service officers, as well as nearby hospitals, fire departments, and UNH Parking and UNH Facilities during non-business hours. With this amount of responsibility, the largely anticipated move was necessary.

"Dispatch had been in the basement of the Service Building for over 30 years. The working conditions were less than stellar," Kulberg said. "It's a vast improvement over what the dispatchers had before."

Their responsibilities were maintained during the entire move, which took less than a day in total.

"We worked with Stephanie Cartabona, a project manager from UNH Facilities, who helped coordinate with the vendors and contractors. We had to work with 11-plus vendors, state agencies and university departments to move without interrupting the service to our community," Kulberg said. "We had to 'leap-frog' the centers with a dispatcher in each site; as one was 'powered up' step-by-step, the other was powered down."

The new location has revived the dispatch team, providing the staff with a new radio system, the opportunity to connect more with the public and, most importantly, space. These small, simple changes are predicted to have a major impact on the way the entire department works in the future.

"By moving them into the police station it allowed us to have the lobby open 24/7. Prior to the move, people visiting the [police department] after business hours would have to use their cell phones to call and an officer would be sent out to speak with them," Kulberg said. "It also has more room, so we were able to add a third dispatcher's station, which will provide extra staffing during large events and in case of emergencies."

"Now, officers requesting information do not need to travel across campus to pick-up hard copies. It is easier to maintain the computer systems as they are now located in one place," Kulberg said. 

With the goal of helping out the community as much as possible in mind, the department remains open to future changes, though none have been set in stone as of yet.

"We are always considering new improvements [and] upgrades. We often get product demos and we analyze them for effectiveness and cost. If we find a product that will benefit the community and/or our customers and is cost effective, we will implement it," Kulberg said.

Until then, the entire staff will only continue to provide the same quality service they have for all these years.


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