HAMPDEN — Town meeting voters in Hampden have rejected a proposal to farm out 911 emergency dispatch service to a regional center in Chicopee.
Article 4, a nonbinding article on the warrant at Monday night’s special town meeting, was intended to gauge voters’ willingness to discontinue Hampden’s emergency, police and fire dispatch service at the town’s new police station for a regional dispatch service based at the Chicopee Public Safety Complex.
The article was resoundingly defeated in a hand-vote by Hampden residents, some of whom questioned the wisdom of handing over local control to a regional facility that provides service to several communities.
Kelsey Green , a Hampden dispatcher, implored citizens in a post on the 566: Hampden Matters Facebook page to consider what they would lose if the town were to contract for regional service. Her concerns were echoed by residents who attended the special town meeting, which was held at Hampden’s Bethlehem Church on Allen Street.
“The threat of depersonalization, the loss of local control and geographical knowledge, the loss of that small town feel that Hampden gingerly upholds takes precedence over monetary value,” Green said. “We cannot put a price on safety, can you?”
Local knowledge saves time. And saving time “equals saving lives,” said Green, who pointed out that Hampden’s new police station would become a “dark station” if local dispatch service were discontinued.
“This means the front lobby would be inaccessible to walk-ins after a certain hour,” she said. “Currently, on weekdays, weekends and holidays, at any hour of the day or night, when you walk into the PD, you are assisted by a dispatcher at the window. Is this a service you are willing to lose?”
Voters answered that question by raising up hundreds of yellow cards in opposition to the proposal.