Dispatch talks continue for Adams County

Published 12:12 am Thursday, June 26, 2014

NATCHEZ — Officials are working to keep the lines of communication open as they continue discussions of consolidating first responder dispatch services for Natchez and Adams County.

The discussion first arose as a question about how fire departments — whether Natchez Fire Department crews or volunteer firefighters — should be dispatched, but at a meeting in late May the discussion was broadened to include the possible consolidation of all Emergency 911 services into a single call center.

Currently, 911 calls that originate outside the Natchez city limits are routed through the Natchez Police Department before they can be sent to the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.

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While ACSO and NPD officials did not outright pan the suggestion, they expressed some hesitation to move forward. The meeting ended with a promise to continue the discussion after both departments have had a chance to examine the proposal.

E911 board members contended the system is not as efficient as it could be, and a consolidated dispatch could save time and lives in situations where minutes could make a difference.

County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford Sr. said the discussion is ongoing and another sit-down with the E911 board will happen next month.

“We are still working out the details,” he said. “We are just looking at if we are going to keep it where it is, if we are going to tweak it or if we are not going to make too many changes. We have got to see where it all irons out.”

The fire and police chiefs and the sheriff are the ones who will be the ultimate deciders on the issue, Bradford said.

“They are the ones who will benefit from it, and they will serve as our experts when it comes to that,” Bradford said. “Our job is to make it comfortable for them. We will work to come up with a simple resolution that benefits everybody and is cost effective.”

Natchez Police Chief Danny White said he is reserving judgment on the matter, but is looking forward to a meeting in the coming month in which the stakeholders will visit Vicksburg, which has a consolidated dispatch center, to see the practical application of such a system.

“There are some things there I can check out and see, and I can make a better decision once I see it in action,” he said.

Sheriff Chuck Mayfield did not return a phone message Wednesday.

During the May meeting, Bradford and the E911 board presented three scenarios for a consolidated dispatch center.

The first plan was to keep the current system in place, but write new policies to clarify how certain calls should be more efficiently dispatched.

The second proposal was for Adams County to budget $400,000 to create a separate consolidated dispatch center, where four teams of three dispatchers would work 12 hour shifts on a 28-day rotation. The county would supply fire employees, the city seven and the E911 board would pay for a director.

The third scenario discussed was for the E911 board to lease the city’s police dispatch area and use the same employee setup as in the second proposal with the ACSO contributing $135,000 annually, while the city would give $130,000 and the E911 board $140,000 every year.