Reidsville prepares for 911 center
Feb 11, 2013 (The Reidsville Review - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
The Reidsville City Council looks towards the best use of resources when it comes to the police department and the 911 Consolidation Center.
During the Tuesday, Feb. 5 council work session, Reidsville City Manager Michael Pearce and Finance Director Chris Phillips discussed the police department's budget. Part of the discussion led to what happens once the 911 Consolidation Center opens.
"No decisions have been made," Reidsville Police Chief Charlie Dennis said. "I think they're just talking about options. I'm looking at those same options."
The council discussed the four officers that currently answer emergency calls. Would they move to the consolidation center or stay with the force
"As far as the four permanent telecommunicators we have, do they just go to the consolidate center " Dennis asked. "That would be no from the emphasis of once the consolidated center opens up, they'll be looking to hire people."
Dennis said the center plans to recruit and local telecommunicators may apply for open positions.
Regardless, having the emergency calls filtered to the consolidation center begs other questions regarding the telecommunicators' responsibilities at their precincts. Their jobs don't stop at answering 911 calls. They answer non-emergency calls, let people into the police department after hours and monitor 24-7 security cameras around the city.
Sending non-emergency calls to the 911 center makes sense. It's not uncommon for a non-emergency call to actually be an emergency.
"I think that would provide the best resource possible for our community to handle an emergency as quickly as possible versus coming here and us saying, 'That sounds like an EMS call,' and we one-button transfer you to the consolidated center," Dennis said. "It would already be there, and you know as well as I do, one minute could save somebody's life."
Looking at cost
Dennis said having the 911 consolidated center answer non-emergency calls may drive up the contract's cost. The police department receives more non-emergency calls than emergency calls.
The council and the police department need to look at the 24-7 camera monitoring, Dennis said, adding they need to consider the amount of crimes solved by monitoring those cameras.
"Is it worth the resource of paying somebody to monitor those or knowing that they're being stored so if you have an event happen you can go back and retrieve the data, which may help you if there's a crime in progress downtown," Dennis asked.
Dennis said the cameras become helpful when an incident occurs downtown. The telecommunicator may be able to help the responder locate the suspect by watching the monitors. Despite that, the police have the ability to transfer the signal to the consolidated center. Again, Dennis said the police department and the city need to look at costs involved and utilizing both funding and the department's staff effectively.
"Having the cameras I think is a great thing," Dennis said. "It's a great crime prevention tool, number one, a good resource after the fact, maybe give you some intelligence information on the car, what the suspects are wearing, descriptions and things."
Lastly, the council discussed keeping the police department as a safe haven. The telecommunicator answers the door after hours. The doors lock, but a doorbell allows communication and access to the police. Without the telecommunicator, the doors lock at 5 p.m. with no one able to let a person in.
The council and Dennis plan to discuss and assess these options over the next few months while planning the upcoming fiscal year's budget.
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