Pilot program aims to improve police response time

FLINT TWP. — Township residents may notice that police are coming quicker when called.

That faster response time may be due to a dispatch pilot program implemented at the first of the year, said Police Chief George Sippert, in a report to the township board last week.

The new program changes the way calls are dispatched through Genesee County 911, he said. In the past, when calls came in, the dispatcher put the call out and waited for available cars to respond. It’s been done that way for the 28 years Sippert has been with the department, he said.

But he’s been pushing for several years and finally got agreement that Flint Township would pilot a direct-dispatch program, activating a never-used aspect of dispatch software.

“In other words, they have the technical capability to see where our cars are constantly,’’ he said. “So when a call comes in, the computer generates which is the closest car and prompts the dispatcher to send (it).”

Chief Sippert said he believes this new procedure is going to improve response time and also reduce radio traffic by sending calls over in-car computers where the officers get them quicker.

But there are many times when there are more calls for help then there are officers available so those won’t be impacted much. But during less busy times, the new system should get available officers on the scene quicker.

Sippert gave the report in response to a comment about response time from Trustee George Menoutes about a recent situation involving door-to-door solicitors.

Menoutes said his 91-year-old sister and a couple of other elderly women were frightened by suspicious salespeople coming to their doors trying to sell window replacements. One woman who had already recently replaced her windows became apprehensive about the legitimacy of the solicitors.

Police were called and responded in less than five minutes to the relief of the elderly residents, Menoutes said. He commended Sippert on how fast officers arrived on the scene.

Menoutes was among trustees who supported a ban on door-to-door sales in the township which the board grappled with last year because of several applications for peddlers permits.

Township ordinance requires that all door to door salespeople have a permit granted by township clerk Kim Courts.

Township Supervisor Karyn Miller said residents should report to the township or call the police about any solicitor who comes to the door and cannot show the permit.

Courts said permits are approved for a specified amount of time and there are none currently authorized, making the alleged window sellers noncompliant.

After much debate last year, the board decided against an ordinance amendment outright banning soliciting. The ordinance, as it stands, authorizes the clerk to approve peddler licenses if applicants comply with an extensive process that includes fingerprinting, paying a fee and providing a recent photograph and driver’s license information for every salesperson.

Last September, the board also voted unanimously to set up a three-person committee to review and revise the township’s peddling ordinance. Options discussed included having the clerk maintain and provide solicitors a list of addresses of residences that do not want to be solicited or alternately instructing solicitors not to approach homes displaying a No Soliciting sign,

Adding to the response time discussion, Fire Chief John Ringwelski said ambulance and fire services also are now using the direct dispatch system

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