Cumberland County Director of Public Safety resigns in the midst of controversy

A well-known Cumberland County official has resigned in the midst of a controversy over emergency response times. John Wise, who’s the Director of Public Safety and Emergency Coordinator, resigned and retired. The dispatch response time has been heavily scrutinized in the past weeks since the borough of Carlisle closed its dispatch center and joined forces with the county.

“I have known Mr. Wise for a number of years – he is a public safety professional,” says Newville Police Chief, Randy Finkey.

Chief Finkey says he speaks for many. He didn’t see Wise’s resignation and retirement coming, and he hopes it’s not related to the current dispatch problem.

“I would hope there’s no connection – but it seems a little too coincidental,” says Finkey.

The Cumberland County Commission released a statement saying, “Immediate measures are being taken to ensure a smooth transition to the management of 911 operations. It is imperative that there be no interruption of diminuation of service to our citizens.”

Chief Finkey says ever since the borough of Carlisle closed its dispatch center, officers are sometimes told to wait.

“If the dispatcher is on a phone call the exact wording will be standby,” says Finkey.

We asked Chief Finkey if he has ever heard of this happening anywhere else.

“Not really,” says Finkey.

FOX43 took a ride with Officer Charles Pyatt to see if the issue is still happening after police chiefs from the western part of the county addressed the problem at a commission meeting last week.

From the time officer Pyatt made contact with dispatch, it took 6 seconds for someone to respond, which is much faster than what they say has been happening.

“Time can be of the essence. We’re talking life and death can be in a matter of seconds and it’s very important that the information gets relayed,” says Officer Pyatt.

Pyatt says the times where he notices an issue are usually Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.

Chief Finkey says the county needs more dispatchers to solve the problem before something worse happens.

“We don’t have the luxury of waiting until there is an incident just so we have something to illustrate our point with,” says Finkey.

Cumberland County Commissioners say they’ll address Wise’s resignation and retirement as well as the 911 dispatch problems in a meeting on Wednesday.

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