The Porter County
Commissioners will merge the E-911 Communications Center and the County’s
Emergency Management Agency as part of their effort to make Porter County
Government more efficient.
“What we are doing
is reorganizing the two agencies that are responsible for emergency
communication. It makes sense for us to make sure these agencies are
communicating at a level that is expected,” said Commissioner Jim Biggs,
Biggs said at
Tuesday’s County Council meeting that the Commissioners have hired
Valparaiso Police Chief Mike Brickner to head what will be called the Porter
County Emergency Communications and Public Safety Department.
The County Council
approved the Commissioners’ request 7-0 to set Brickner’s salary at $90,000,
compared to the $68,000 salary of outgoing E-911 Director C.J. Wittmer.
Biggs said the
decision to reorganize came about after receiving complaints from different
police and fire departments about communication problems involving multiple
“We felt a total
reorganization was in order. Communication is paramount. That is what was
lacking,” Biggs told the Council.
hired P4 Global, a strategic security company based in Chicago, to consult
on the reorganization and search for a new director. Biggs said 13
applicants were screened from around the nation and Brickner, who has 20
years’ experience in police administration in Porter County, was found to be
the best candidate.
improving communication, Biggs said one of the goals in the merger is cost
efficiency. He said Brickner will head the department, essentially leading
both E-911 and EMA operations, and a deputy will be hired for EMA instead of
a separate director.
Brickner will begin
his post on Aug. 21. Wittmer has submitted his resignation to the
Commissioners, effective the same day, Biggs said.
The department will
be formed sometime this year, Biggs said. Discussions are currently going on
about what the personnel structure will be. It is not yet known how many
employees the department will have, Biggs added.
Council member Jeff
Larson, R-at large, was part of the selection committee for the new director
and said Brickner was one of the applicants who “were definitely qualified.”
members like Dan Whitten, D-at large, questioned the salary as they prefer
increases to be addressed only during budget hearings. Biggs said P4 Global
advised that someone with the skill set the Commissioners wanted would
usually receive a salary between $115,000 to $148,000. The Commissioners and
Brickner agreed to $90,000, Biggs said.