Oak Lawn’s 911 center director retires
By Steve Metsch firstname.lastname@example.org April 1, 2014 10:36PM
Oak Lawn emergency call dispatchers lobby for support Tuesday night before a village board meeting at which their jobs were outsourced to a private company. | Steve Metsch~Sun-Times Media
Updated: May 3, 2014 6:43AM
Kathy Hansen, longtime director of Oak Lawn’s Regional Emergency Communications Center, retired Friday, according to the village.
Richard Bessette, who was an information technology specialist for the village the past nine years and a project manager for Hansen, will replace Hansen, a news release from the village said. Bessettee and wife have lived in Oak Lawn for 14 years and have two children.
Village manager Larry Deetjen expressed regret over Hansen’s decision to step down but “fully supports and understands the importance of family and professional priorities that are uniquely important to all individuals,” the release said. Deetjen praised Hansen’s 20 years of service with Oak Lawn and her commitment “to excellence.”
Deetjen did not respond Tuesday to an email request for an interview.
During Hansen’s tenure, the communications center grew and now handles Oak Lawn police and fire calls as well as police calls for Evergreen Park, Bridgeview and Burbank and fire calls for Bedford Park and Central Stickney. The center also was renovated to include a computer-aided dispatch and records management system and a high-speed fiber connection to each community.
Hansen also oversaw the transition this year in which Oak Lawn entered into a somewhat controversial contract with Elmhurst-based Norcomm Public Safety Communications for the latter to provide 911 emergency services.
The pact came just days after the union representing Oak Lawn emergency dispatchers asked the Illinois Labor Relations Board to seek an injunction, aimed at stalling the village’s plan to privatize 911 service, citing a contract that does not expire until the end of 2014.
The village board in November voted 4-2 to authorize Deetjen to hire Norcomm. That board meeting was filled with dispatchers and their supporters, who roundly criticized the trustees for their decision.
Hansen and three supervisors were retained, but dispatchers had to reapply for their jobs at lower pay. Most were not rehired.
Oak Lawn has a two-year contract with Norcomm to staff the emergency call center, and the pact can be extended for three years if both sides agree, according to a copy of the agreement the SouthtownStar obtained under Illinois’ freedom of information law.
Under the agreement, Oak Lawn will pay Norcomm $1.99 million for the first year of service, and that increases to $2 million, $2.1 million, $2.2 million and $2.3 million in years two through five of the agreement.