OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — There appears to be dissension in the ranks of Johnson County leaders over a new plan to phase out using exclusively sworn deputies in the county’s 911 call centers.
Commissioners Charlotte O’Hara and Janeé Hanzlick touted the plan to cut costs and improve response times.
“This should be extremely smooth, no one has to worry about losing their job,” O’Hara told FOX4.
The sworn deputies in the call center will be phased out through attrition in the coming years. Trained civilian operators, such as those used in several other area emergency call centers, will replace the deputies.
The action plan is the result of a recent audit on county emergency communications.
“My son-in-law is a sheriff’s deputy and I’m very, very cognizant about the law-enforcement community,” O’Hara said. “So I would never do anything that would be negative to them.”
Commissioner Hanzlick said the process received broad support and is already in the early stages.
“The county manager and the sheriff, I believe, have already started those conversations,” Hanzlick said.
But a written statement from Johnson County Sheriff Calvin Hayden seemed to dispute that notion.
“While we have entered into negotiations, no decisions have been made at this point,” Hayden wrote. “We are still trying to work out the details of how it could or could not happen. It is not a done deal.”
That sheriff’s statement appeared to take some county commissioners by surprise.
“I had a different impression of the situation,” Hanzlick told FOX4 in a follow-up text message. “At the time the audit was presented to the board of commissioners, the sheriff seemed very supportive. I appreciate his clarification.”