New dispatch system set to simplify NPD, ACSO communications

Published 12:12 am Tuesday, October 21, 2014

NATCHEZ Adams County’s law enforcement won’t be consolidating its dispatch centers, but the two jurisdictions will be sharing a system to enable better communication.

Adams County Emergency Management Director Robert Bradford Jr. told the Adams County Board of Supervisors Monday the Emergency 911 board of directors has decided to install a new dispatch system that will simplify the Natchez Police Department and Adams County Sheriff’s Office’s dispatch communications.

The server for the $227,720.61 system will be placed in the basement of the Adams County Sheriff’s Office building, and will digitally connect the NPD and ACSO dispatch centers.

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The issue of consolidating dispatch services was raised earlier this year when county officials expressed concern volunteer fire departments outside the city limits weren’t being dispatched to fires before city fire department crews were. The county’s fire protection agreement with the city requires a reduction in calls the Natchez Fire Department responds to outside the city limits over time or the county government faces financial penalties.

E911 board members also said at the time having two dispatch centers was inefficient because of lost time and communication between them.

Currently, all 911 calls are routed to the NPD, and if the emergency is outside the city limits, the police dispatcher transfers the call to the ACSO dispatcher.

The problem, ACSO Maj. Billy Neely said, is the current system doesn’t record calls and other information once the transfer has been made, and ACSO dispatchers have to collect information from transferred calls by hand on a notepad.

Bradford said the new system would eliminate that problem, and would be able to tell the origination point of calls from cellular phones because it will track from which tower the call originated.

ACSO Maj. Billy Neely said the system was the closest to centralized dispatch as the area could get right now.

“The (system) throws up a digital display, and when a call comes in, it will show exactly where that call is on the map,” Neely said. “We will have technology that we have never had for the past 30 years.”

The new system is being funded from E911’s budget, Neely said, and the savings could ultimately fund the hiring of two more county dispatchers.