To save money and improve police efficiency, Fremont and Union City have begun consolidating their emergency call centers.
The cities over the next 18 months will phase in a new system, saving each millions of dollars over the next decade by sharing the cost of technology upgrades and personnel salaries, city leaders say.
"The move toward regionalization is a win for both cities," said Union City police Cmdr. Ben Horner said.
Union City and Newark police have a joint SWAT unit, Horner said, so the city is familiar with sharing resources
"Regionalization is not new to us," he said. "It's probably a sign of things to come around the Bay Area."
The third city in the area just upgraded its own dispatch system and has decided to hold back from the partnership for now.
Fremont -- which has 220,000 residents, three times more than Union City -- will host the dispatch center. It will finance the $1.4 million one-time cost to design and build the systems for computer-aided dispatch record management. Over the system's expected 10-year life span, Union City will pay 30 percent of the cost -- or about $423,000 -- because, though smaller, it expects to generate that same percentage of public safety calls.
The two cities say they will enjoy several benefits from joining forces, including an annual savings of around $400,000 for each city.
Union City's systems for police records and computer-aided dispatch were at the end of their life spans, Horner said, so its share of consolidation costs is money it soon would have to spend anyway. Also, the improved communication between the neighboring police forces will help them catch more lawbreakers.
"A lot of our criminal activity crosses jurisdictional lines," Horner said. "Now we'll be able to communicate and share information because we'll be on the same system."
The two agencies will phase in the new system over the next 18 months, starting by sharing a joint dispatch one shift per day. But in January 2016, dispatchers from both cities will be expected to work all shifts in the Fremont police station, said Horner.
That both cities have been using the same dispatch technology company -- Tiburon, Inc. -- will help ease the transition, according to a Fremont city report.
Newark decided to go its own way about a year ago, paying Sun Ridge Systems $565,000 to install its new dispatch system.
"If we joined consolidation, we'd have to pay again to switch to Tiburon and that would be a considerable cost," said Newark police Cmdr. Michael Carroll said.
Newark, a city with around 43,000 residents and a tight budget, must be more cautious with major budget decisions, city leaders said.
"Once you close your dispatch center, it's very difficult and maybe impossible to undo that," Carroll said. "It would be cost-prohibitive for us to go back.
"But if the numbers make sense, moving forward, it's something we would definitely consider."
Contact Chris De Benedetti at 510-353-7011. Follow him at Twitter.com/cdebenedetti.