Barrington Switching 9-1-1 to Northwest Central Dispatch from Cencom Dispatch

Northwest Central Dispatch October 27, 2021
Northwest Central Dispatch System in Arlington Heights, Wednesday night, October 27, 2021.

Police and fire dispatch and 9-1-1 call management for the Village of Barrington is scheduled to make a switch from CenCom Dispatch located in Round Lake Beach to Northwest Central Dispatch System (NWCDS) in Arlington Heights in Spring 2022. The go live date is expected to occur in April or May 2022.




Closer to the go-live date, the NWCDS/NWC911 Joint Board will need to pass a resolution to add the Village of Barrington to the NWC911 ETSB (Emergency Telephone System Board).

The Village of Barrington Board of Trustees on Monday night, October 25, 2021 approved the switch with RESOLUTION #21, approving and authorizing the execution of an Amended and Restated Northwest Central Dispatch System Venture Agreement and related By-Laws by and among the Village of Barrington, and several other local municipalities. ORDINANCE #21 authorizes the entry into the Northwest Central Dispatch System.

Barrington’s formal membership request for NWCDS to provide 9-1-1 dispatch services for their police and fire departments was unanimously approved by the NWCDS System Board on Thursday, May 20, 2021.




Village of Barrington police and fire officials met virtually several times with NWCDS staff to discuss operational items such as police and fire unit numbers and dispatch procedures, as well as other items such as governance and communicating with the State of Illinois about the change.

The Village of Barrington Police Department will join a Law Dispatch talkgroup, and the Village of Barrington Fire Department will join a Fire Dispatch talkgroup — each already existing in NWCDS. Northwest Central Dispatch System is part of the the StarCom21 system, which is a joint venture of the State of Illinois and Motorola. The StarCom21 system assigns agencies to talkgroups instead of individual radio frequencies because the entire system’s technology puts a talkgroup on an available frequency among a set of radio frequencies that are assigned to Northwest Central Dispatch System in the StarCom21 system. The system is organized with a method to minimize congested frequencies by letting a talkgroup jump to an available radio frequency. StarCom21 antenna towers are networked across Illinois.




Also new for the Village of Barrington police and fire departments will be digital radio communications. Police communications will be encrypted for privacy, which is a trend for police departments and sheriff’s departments in Chicagoland and nationwide.

Initially it was unknown whether the police and fire departments will need to purchase additional radios. Some radios used for NWCDS are already utilized by the Barrington Fire Department for mutual aid assignments into communities already members of NWCDS. At the time of publishing this article it was unknown whether the Barrington Police Department already has multiple radios equipped for NWCDS.

Barrington Police Department will likely join the talkgroup that is utilized by Palatine Police Department, Inverness Police Department, and Rolling Meadows Police Department. Barrington Fire Department will likely join the talkgroup that is utilized by Barrington-Countryside, Palatine, Palatine-Rural, and Rolling Meadows fire agencies.

Existing NWCDS member police departments are Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village, Hoffman Estates, Inverness, Mount Prospect, Palatine, Prospect Heights, Rolling Meadows, Schaumburg and Streamwood. Contract fire agencies are Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District and Palatine Rural Fire Protection District.

Prospect Heights Fire Protection District is dispatched by RED Center Dispatch in Northbrook.

CenCom includes police departments in Round Lake, Round Lake Beach, Round Lake Heights and Round Lake Park; and the Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District. Cencom also dispatches Antioch police and fire.

The Barrington-Countryside Fire Protection District’s 9-1-1 and dispatch outsourcing switched to Northwest Central Dispatch System beginning the month of March 2017.

The switch for the Village of Barrington is expected decrease annual contract costs, decrease other maintenance costs, and improve efficiency of police department and fire department operations — including operations that involve operations with neighboring communities.

The Village of Barrington is also looking forward to joining the Northwest Central Joint Emergency Management System in 2022. The Joint Emergency Management System provides shared services involving the four phases of emergency management in a major emergency, disaster or prolonged health and safety operation — Preparedness, Response, Recovery and Mitigation.

Northwest Central Dispatch System is also the dispatch center for MABAS Division 1 (northwest Cook County) for mutual aid fire agency responses during major fire and EMS emergencies and disasters. Barrington is in MABAS Division 4, which is in Lake County. Similar to Buffalo Grove, Barrington is located in Cook County and Lake County. Buffalo Grove is listed in MABAS Division 1 and Division 4.

Northwest Central Dispatch System is also the dispatch center for ILEAS (Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System) and NIPAS (Northern Illinois Police Alarm System) for major police emergencies and special law enforcement operations that involve mutual aid among police departments.

NWCDS was initially a police-only dispatch center, serving Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Elk Grove Village and Mount Prospect when these municipalities provided their own fire dispatch offices. Just before NWCDS took over fire dispatch in addition to police dispatch in the late 1970s, Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove and Prospect Heights fire dispatch operated out of a fire station (now closed) in Arlington Heights. The fire station was located at 709 North Arlington Heights Road, and was closed when a new fire station opened in August 2000 at 1150 North Arlington Heights Road. NWCDS was established in 1971 before 9-1-1 existed in the northwest suburbs. Cencom Dispatch was formed in 1989.

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