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911 Dispute Headed to Mediation

Saturday, February, 6, 2016

Mediation with a neutral third party mediator is next up for the lawsuit involving the E-911 system and Cedar Lake and Schererville officials, and Lake County. The mediator has been chosen and the two sides have agreed to submit their dispute and cooperate with the mediator and agreed it would be easier to work with someone from outside of the county. The dispute concerns differences that deny emergency officials in two communities’ instant access to emergency officials that are available to the rest of Lake County.


The mediator chosen has experience with more than 3400 cases. He is a charter member of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals. According to the attorney for Lake County, the mediation will likely begin after the lawsuit is transferred to Jasper County and the mediator officially accepts the assignment, a process that could take several weeks.


The E-911 board for Lake County recently voted to name the county commission as the chairman of the board, which means he will likely play a key role in the upcoming mediation negotiations.


The dispute began when the state ordered its 92 counties to merge the public safety dispatch services for all counties, cities, and towns. Cedar Lake and Schererville refused to join Lake County’s E-911 network and formed their own public safety answering point which it called Southcom. Southcom lacked a direct link to the county’s radio broadcasting network, which meant it was difficult for fire, police, and other emergency service staff to communicate.


Now, Lake County is ordering the towns to join the network or if they want to continue Southcom, pay a radio access fee. The towns refuse to do this and believe they are already paying more than enough in local income taxes. The towns are also asking for a share of the $2.3 million in telephone user fees that were given by the state to Lake County.