Mayor, Chiefs, CFO React to Council Action on Emergency Communications

"We are better together," Mayor says

Media: Fianna Dickson, 625.6297, Mayor's office: 311

Monday, June 24, 2019 at 7:33 p.m.

Spokane Mayor David Condon, Police Chief Craig Meidl, Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer, and Chief Financial Officer Gavin Cooley expressed their concerns for the health of the City’s public safety agencies and, more importantly, its citizens, following the City Council’s action to reject joining the Spokane Regional Emergency Communications (SREC) system.

“We are better together, especially when we take into account the top priority of our citizens – safety,” said Mayor Condon. “More than two years ago, the Council and I agreed that regional integration of emergency communications was a key priority, naming it specifically in our joint City Council-Administration Strategic Plan. This decision fails to recognize the cost savings, operational efficiencies, and improved emergency response built into the new system.”

Today, the City Council passed a resolution terminating the City’s participation in the SREC project. As a result, the City will operate a duplicate emergency communications system for dispatch and related services for the Spokane Police Department and the Spokane Fire Department.

“Unfortunately, today’s conclusion could place the effectiveness of the region’s fire service at risk,” says Chief Schaeffer. “Fracturing the Combined Communications System (CCC) into two redundant and disparate systems places a significant barrier to ensuring the safety of the Spokane community’s firefighters and the public that we are sworn to serve. We are committed to pursuing future efforts to reduce call processing time, improve regional resource coordination, law/fire information collaboration, and taking steps to continually improve the system we have.”

“Immediately, the City estimates it will pay in excess of $1 million more in 2020 to maintain its own dispatch and communications services with no additional benefit for citizens,” says CFO Cooley. “Over time, the added cost for the City operating independently of SREC could grow – up to $5 million or more annually. These are dollars that would be available for other key City investments in public safety or other priorities.”

Cooley added that while the details of the new system took time to materialize, the flow of communication to the City’s elected officials was “regular and continuous.” Additionally, the City and SREC did finalize a Service Level Agreement for police communications that meets the needs of SPD.

With this decision, Mayor Condon has directed City staff to continue to assist the 10 Spokane Fire Department Communication Specialists who received layoff notices from the City effective July 1, when SREC begins operations. SREC has indicated they will move forward as planned, and we are pleased to see our employees being well cared for in the transition.

In the meantime, emergency services remains a top priority. We have a long history of mutual aid to ensure no interruption of services, and the same number of dispatchers will be answering calls as they are today.

“I want to thank the representatives on the SREC board for their sincere attempt to accommodate the City within the new regional system,” Condon says. “I am hopeful that the obvious benefits of a combined system will lead to a reconsideration of this issue in time.”

“With today’s decision not to move forward with an integrated, collaborative emergency communications system, as Police Chief I want to reassure the community that our dispatch center will continue to provide exceptional service ensuring safety for our community members and first-responders,” Chief Meidl says. “We will continue to support our area colleagues as they integrate around us. I am hopeful that the last year and half worth of work will provide a foundation to allow us to continue exploring the potential for integration.”

Spokane area public safety agencies have been working to develop a collaborative, integrated emergency communications system since voters approved a 10-year extension of a one-tenth of one percent sales tax measure in April 2017 that included this goal.

After years of planning, SREC ( is following the effective, efficient, affordable and sustainable model that is a best practice across the country. It is designed to create efficiencies and greater collaboration among public safety agencies and responders, improved officer and firefighter safety, reduced emergency response times, better-quality data to assess crime trends, and overall improvement of the community’s financial and technical resources.

The SREC agency will provide dispatch and communications services for the region’s other fire services and the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office and contracted law enforcement services. SREC also will operate all 9-1-1 and Crime Check services for all law enforcement, fire and medical response agencies in Spokane County, including the City of Spokane. SREC still plans to begin operations on July 1.

About the City of Spokane

The City of Spokane, home to more than 220,000 people, is located in the heart of the Inland Northwest. Our 2,000 employees strive to deliver efficient and effective services that facilitate economic opportunity and enhance the quality of life for all our citizens. For more information, visit or follow us at @SpokaneCity on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.