E-COM, the 911 dispatch center that serves Homewood, Flossmoor, Glenwood, Hazel Crest, East Hazel Crest, Country Club Hills, Thornton, South Holland and Riverdale, will merge with SouthCom, another emergency dispatch center that serves Richton Park, Park Forest, Matteson and Olympia Fields in the South Suburbs.
E-COM handles all police, fire, emergency management services, public works, 911-emergency and non-emergency calls. It serves approximately 108,000 residents. A merger with SouthCom will increase this to approximately 173,000 residents.
E-COM will move from its current location on Ridge Road at Center Street at the Izaak Walton nature center, but a new, larger location for the combined operation that will serve 13 communities has not been determined. One possible site is 3700 West 183rd Street in Hazel Crest, according to a memo from the Village of Hazel Crest.
E-COM board member and Flossmoor village manager Bridget Wachtel said the merger will result in “a more efficient operation and delivery of service,” adding that the agency’s technology will be enhanced.
“The state is making special consolidation grants available. E-COM applied for one of these grants, and earlier this month we received an official award notification of $2.9 million,” Wachtel said. “We plan to seek additional state and federal grants as well. These efforts, along with both centers’ capital funds, will make consolidation possible without needing any additional funds from the village.”
When Wachtel updated the Flossmoor Village Board about the merger, Trustee Brian Driscoll asked a question about the effects of expansion.
“My concern is if they’ll be able to keep up the same level of service as they get bigger,” Driscoll said. “A few years ago, on our famous corner of Vardon and Dixie, […] a car in front of me pulled out and was T-boned.”
Driscoll said the accident “looked horrific” so he called 911, but he couldn’t tell the dispatcher if the corner was in Homewood or Flossmoor.
“I just hope that we don’t lose a level of service to where the dispatchers don’t really have any familiarity,” with the neighborhood, Driscoll said.
“Familiarity with all of the communities that we serve is a priority for the dispatch agency,” Wachtel said. “They do work to connect our dispatcher to both our police and fire personnel to become familiar with the communities that they serve. And I don’t expect that to be changing.”
In a unanimous vote, the Flossmoor village board approved the resolution to enter into an intergovernmental agreement that merged E-Com with SouthCom on Aug. 7.
“It has been determined that there are significant benefits to be realized, and effectively no drawbacks,” the Flossmoor staff wrote in a memo to the board.
The village of Homewood approved the same resolution on July 25.
According to the memo regarding the resolution, the building at 1221 175th St. in Homewood was proposed as a possible site for the new dispatch center, but the space was too large for what was needed.