BOSTON – Senator Jennifer L. Flanagan (D-Leominster) and Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg) today announced the successful passage of legislation relative to regional 911 emergency communications districts. This legislation provides guidelines and framework for communities interested in establishing regional 911 emergency communication centers.
“This legislation sets up a clear process through which cities and towns can pursue regionalizing their 911 communications, an important cost saving measure that is vital for small communities,” said Senator Flanagan. “It is vital that we continue to make it conducive for cities and towns to streamline these types of functions in order to maximize the funding the state is able to provide municipalities.”
“Regionalized call centers, such as the Nashoba Valley Regional Emergency Communications Center, allow municipalities to see significant cost savings while continuing to provide critical emergency services for residents,” said Representative Benson. “As we continue to encourage regional partnerships in order to make the most of funding and resources, this legislation establishes comprehensive guidelines and makes the process of opening a regional 911 call center more efficient.”
Regionalization of 911 services allows towns to share dispatch services, including both emergency and non-emergency calls, in order to improve the quality of public safety and to provide cost saving measures to municipalities. Since June 2013, the Nashoba Valley Regional Emergency Communications Center has provided such shared dispatch services under an agreement between the towns of Devens, Harvard, Lancaster, and Lunenburg. This legislation will allow additional cities and towns throughout Massachusetts to set up similar services on a regional basis and to be recognized as legal entities.
The bill outlines in statute the agreements between the communities, the powers that regional centers would have, and the process to audit these entities. The legislation also puts forth mechanisms for setting up governance and organizational structures and creates planning committees to discern the feasibility of establishing centers. The bill also mandates that district boards must determine the financial details for upkeep of the centers and that the 911 emergency communication districts provide an annual financial statement to their members. This legislation would mitigate the need for special legislation, which is the current practice for opening a regional 911 center.