While Zephyrhills is considering a consolidation of its dispatch services with Pasco County’s emergency dispatch, city officials made it clear that there are no plans to shutter the city’s police department.
Last year, the city merged its fire department with Pasco Fire Rescue, as the city’s fire department faced mounting costs and personnel turnover.
Elected city officials want the public to know that its police department will remain intact.
Council Vice President Jodi Wilkeson put it like this: “We need to reassure people that it’s not our intent to merge the police department with the county, that this is purely to improve communications between law enforcement groups.”
If anything, the city should expand its own police force, which stands at 34 sworn officers, Councilman Ken Burgess said.
“I think we need more officers on the street. This (communications merger) could be a way of putting more officers on the street; I think that’s a positive,” Burgess said.
Pasco Sheriff Chris Nocco doesn’t have interest in absorbing the Zephyrhills Police Department or other municipal police forces, for that matter, said the city’s Police Chief Derek Brewer.
“The sheriff has publicly said he has no interest in taking over the cities, and I will tell you that is a very, very, very expensive proposition for the county to take over, that I don’t think that they’d be willing to look at,” Brewer said.
City officials also said that if a dispatch merger occurs, city dispatchers would retain full-time positions within the municipality or police department, albeit in a different capacity, if for some reason they are not taken in by county dispatch through a merger.
The city is budgeted for 10 dispatchers, but currently has eight on staff.
Published March 03, 2021
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