WASHINGTON — There's a nondescript phone and sign on a wall in the lobby of the Washington police station.
Nondescript, but essential.
Washington's police dispatchers have been working temporarily since the end of October at the Tazewell/Pekin Consolidated Communications Center in Pekin, also known as Tazcomm.
The dispatchers will move permanently sometime this spring to the renovated Morton police station as part of a state-mandated Tazewell County emergency response center consolidation.
With the dispatchers gone, the Washington police station is no longer open to the public 24 hours a day.
But it is staffed from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week by police administrative service specialists, who can help people who come into the station.
Why those 16 hours daily?
"We've found that nearly 98 percent of the people who come into our station come in between 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.," said Washington police Chief Mike McCoy.
From 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., people who come into the Washington police station can use the phone in the lobby to reach Tazcomm directly. The yellow sign taped to the wall over the phone has that information and lists lobby hours.
The creation of the police administrative service specialist positions, those employees' hours and their additional work responsibilities, such as police records and statistical analysis, was the response of Washington city and police officials to the departure of the dispatchers.
There are two full-time and three part-time police administrative service specialists. Two full-time dispatchers and one part-time dispatcher switched jobs and remained working at the Washington police station, and two part-timers were hired.
McCoy told the City Council earlier this month he's satisfied so far with the arrangement at his police station.
"We're keeping those folks busy," he said about the police administrative service specialists.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.