April 4, 2016
While the Shumlin Administration is publicly rebutting today’s announcement by the Vermont 9-1-1 Emergency Board that the Department of Public Safety (DPS) wants privatize its two remaining Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) in Rockingham and Williston, the Vermont State Employees’ Association (VSEA) is not taking any chances and will be moving forward to develop a plan to thwart any effort to privatize the remaining PSAPs.
Less than a year ago, DPS ignored strong public outcry against two proposed PSAP closures (led by frontline dispatchers, first responders and many in law enforcement) and went ahead and shuttered the Rutland and Derby PSAPs. The closures displaced dozens of seasoned state employees, much like the closing the Williston and Rockingham PSAPs would.
“VSEA and our members working at these PSAPs intend to fight any ill-advised privatization scheme with the same vigor as we did last year; hopefully with a different result this time around,” says VSEA President Dave Bellini. “The Board’s announcement did not provide any detail about what DPS’ plan is or what the costs are associated with it, so we don’t know much yet. We’ll be working with our PSAP members in the coming weeks to learn whatever details there are about this privatization effort, and what its safety and financial impact could be for Vermonters and our towns and communities. If forced to, VSEA will once again stress that these dispatchers are Vermonters serving Vermonters. They know their regions and personnel, and when it comes to issues of public safety, this is very important.”
Bellini added that VSEA would be making a candidate’s stance on the issue of privatizing state services like the PSAPs and the Risk Management Division a focal point of its endorsement strategy in this year’s election.
“It’s time for Vermont elected officials, especially those who claim to be a friend to state employees, to step up and begin to publicly push back against the repeated efforts by some to privatize critical state services that have served Vermonters well for decades,” says Bellini. “Privatization is not the answer, especially for services as important as the one currently being performed by our trained and knowledgeable PSAP personnel. VSEA will continue to stand with first responders and law enforcement to protect the public against potentially dangerous privatization schemes.”
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