Departments collecting old cell phones as part of state-wide effort.
By Carmen Mccollum, Northwest Indiana Times
St. John, Ind. -- At a time when municipal budgets are strapped and
Lake County's reassessment leaves future budgets in question, St.
John police dispatchers have found a way to pay for additional
The St. John Police Department has joined with Indiana NENA Inc. to
collect and sell old cellular phones and use the money to train 9-1-1
dispatchers across the state. Indiana NENA is the Indiana 9-1-1
National Emergency Number Association.
Joan Kolodziej, St. John Police Department administrative assistant,
said the sale of the old cell phones will provide much-needed revenue.
"Most departments, like ours, have a limited budget and it is
difficult at times to find monies for dispatcher training," she said.
"It's one of the last places where money is spent. There are lots of
different areas of training needed such as domestic violence,
homeland security issues, suicide intervention, fire training and
St. John Town Manager Steve Kil said dispatcher training is
especially important for a growing community like St. John.
"There is a new telephone prefix (588) that people are not familiar
with and training becomes crucial as communities annex territory." he
said. "This is a good effort. At this point, we're not even sure if
we're going to have a budget.
These are questions facing every entity of government. The tax levy
is also frozen. It's not as if you can unfreeze it for certain
things. So again, this program becomes even more important."
Ty Wooten, Indiana NENA Inc. president, said they have collected
about $300 from across the state so far.
Wooten said the idea is to raise enough money to host multiple
training sessions across the state.
Wooten estimated that each training session, held at three locations
across the state, could cost between $3,000 and $5,000. He said the
sessions would be offered to dispatchers at no cost to the community.
"The training is critical because dispatchers are just like any other
first-responder," he said. "They are not technically the first people
on the scene, but they are the first people collecting information
and data for those people who are on their way to an emergency
situation, and it's important for them to know all aspects of what's
going on to help mitigate the incident."
He also said an estimated 100 million cell phones are retired in
America as a result of technological upgrades.
"With the rules adopted at the end of November by the FCC, it gives
cellular customers the ability to change wireless service providers
without changing their telephone number," Wooten said.
Sue Mosier, Crown Point Police Department office manager, said they
are participating in the program because dispatcher training is
Mosier, who is also first vice president of Indiana NENA, said in
Lake County alone, there are 19 different agencies and an average of
seven to 10 dispatchers per department.
"You're talking about hundreds of people," she said, adding that
people in Griffith, Hammond, Lake Station and Munster also are
"The whole state has been asked to participate," she said. "You don't
just have to take the old cell phone to a department. You also can go
online and turn it in. We're offering it at police stations as a
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