911 Disptaching

LAST WEEK, officials in Belmont County sat down once again to discuss issues related to the Belmont County 911 dispatching. Apparently, some wrinkles still need to be ironed out.

Earlier this year, Belmont County Sheriff Fred Thompson announced his desire to bring the 911 dispatching under his umbrella, citing concerns about the policies and practices of the current 911 dispatchers. The sheriff indicated that road deputies were being sent to scenes where law enforcement was not needed, such as civil disputes.

The Belmont County 911 Center has taken on a tremendous task over the past year or so. With all law enforcement agencies in the area facing tight budgets, the 911 Center has taken on dispatching duties for many of the police agencies in the county, as well as the sheriff’s office.

When John Q. Public calls a local police department with an emergency, it’s likely that the call is redirected to the 911 Center, and a 911 dispatcher takes the call and handles the situation. With 911 dispatchers fielding the full spectrum of calls in the area and being the primary contact for road patrols, bumps in the method of operation are being noticed by both the dispatchers and the law enforcement officials.

For instance, dispatchers conduct regular radio checks to make sure officers on road patrols are safe. The problem arises when not all police agencies are on the same page when it comes to how often these radio checks are made. Officials at the 911 Center last week said some law enforcement officials on the road aren’t answering.

This is a problem that needs to be resolved. If an officer isn’t answering a radio check, the dispatcher must assume that the officer may be in trouble and needs backup.

These kinds of wrinkles must be ironed out. The 911 dispatchers have a duty to be on the same page as the officers who serve the public. Likewise, any police agency that doesn’t wish to have the 911 Center dispatch their calls should find a way to free up their budget and hire back their own dispatchers. It’s that simple.

Otherwise, these public servants should all be working on the same team toward the same goal – protecting the public. We have faith that our hard-working, dedicated and well-trained force of law enforcement agents and 911 employees will do just that.