Web Extra! Updated 07/29/08

West Suburban Consolidated Dispatch Center Executive Director Greg Riddle will retire, effective Sept. 5. Riddle, who has 39 years in public safety work, said Monday he intends to run for elective office within the Association of Public Safety Communication Officials (APCO).

APCO, which was created in 1937, around the time the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was created, works with the FCC and Congress on issues related to public safety radio and 911.

Riddle came to the newly authorized West Suburban Consolidated Dispatch Center (WSCDC) in the fall of 2001 after 32 years as a fireman in Elk Grove Village. He has been WSCDC’s executive director for nearly seven years. Over that period he oversaw the construction and opening of the new $2.75-million dispatch operation center in May, 2002.

Riddle recently informed Elmwood Park Village Manager John J. Dalicandro, who chairs the WSCDC board of directors, of his decision. “This is not an easy decision, but one that I feel is the right one,” he wrote Dalicandro.

The new position Riddle will seek, second vice president of APCO, is an unpaid volunteer job, but one which will require a considerable amount of travel, mostly to Washington D.C., where he will be representing the interests of police, fire and EMS telecommunication organizations.

“The time away from the office is more than would be practical if I was still working,” Riddle said Monday, noting that he’s been a member of APCO since 1981, and actively involved in its operations the last 12 years, serving on a number of committees and task forces.

“I’ve come to understand what their time commitments are,” he said.

Riddle declined to speculate regarding his replacement, saying, “That’s going to be up to the [governing] board.”

The three-person WSCDC governing board is comprised of River Forest Village Administrator Steve Gutierrez, Oak Park Village Manager Tom Barwin and Dalicandro.

In a press release late Monday afternoon, Barwin said, “Elmwood Park, Oak Park and River Forest are poised to begin the search for a new executive.”

Barwin said the search “likely will include putting the word out nationally through telecommunications industry outlets and networking resources. Details of the search process will be determined at the WSCDC’s board meeting in August.”

Barwin added that if no replacement for Riddle is named before his departure, Assistant Director Ron Gross would be asked to assume an interim executive director role during the search period.

The statement also noted the need for a skill set beyond technical understanding of telecommunication equipment.

“In addition to the technical skills critical to managing the center … the ideal candidate also will have experience managing highly trained, specialty personnel and working with the citizens who rely on the 9-1-1 center during life-and-death situations,” he said.

Gross and Riddle have both been criticized for what some allege are management shortcomings. In November of last year, a man having a seizure died while waiting for medical assistance, possibly due to an 11-minute delay after an ambulance was dispatched to the wrong address.

River Forest Trustee Steve Hoke, a frequent critic of WSCDC management and operational mistakes, wished Riddle well Tuesday, but cautioned against a rush to replace him. Rumors were already flying Tuesday that Gross will be appointed to formally replace Riddle.

“We wish Greg well in his future endeavors,” said Hoke. “As to Greg’s replacement, I am concerned that we have never identified the source of the problems at the 911 center, and it would both be premature and missing an opportunity to anoint a successor without fully assessing what needs to be fixed first.”

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