City, county E-911 center dispatch partnership still unresolved

Published 10:02 am Thursday, February 22, 2024

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

NATCHEZ – The consolidation of city-county dispatch efforts into one E-911 center remains undecided.

In January 2017, the city and the county agreed to consolidate 911 dispatching services. The city’s 10 dispatchers joined the county’s five dispatchers under one roof, housed in the basement of the Adams County Jail in the emergency management office. Leaks, mold and other issues have plagued the facility and officials have been working since 2019 to find a new location.

In 2022, the Natchez police chief proposed moving the dispatch into the police department building, but county officials rejected the proposal. In 2023, Adams County supervisors purchased a building on Feltus Lane to house the combined center.

Email newsletter signup

When E-911 Dispatch Director Annette Fells went before the supervisors on Wednesday to ask once again when the dispatch center could move, the issue of the unresolved partnership with the City of Natchez came to the fore.

Adams County Attorney Scott Slover said he and new county administrator Stephanie Washington plan to have a meeting within the week with City Clerk Megan McKenzie to discuss the dispatch center, among other issues.

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said he, too, would like to see the city and county continue to work together.

About three times the number of calls comes in through the 911-dispatch center for the Natchez Police Department, as do those for the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.

“A meeting is being held next week between Attorney Slover and the county administrator and the city clerk to take a look at the numbers the county is now proposed and how those may work for us,” Gibson said. “Once the city clerk and the county administrator seem to be comfortable with these numbers, we would engage our aldermen and they would make a decision.

“I think they are also looking at the number for the Natchez Fire Department, who provides fire coverage for Adams County,” Gibson said. “We provided the county with a proposal for continuing to do that, which they did not deem to be satisfactory. I would like to see us come to some conclusion on both of these matters soon. I want to make sure we continue to work together.”

The last contract between the county and city for fire services has expired and the county has continued with the city on a month-to-month basis as the current fee until a new agreement is reached or other arrangements are made.

During discussions at the Wednesday county meeting, District 5 Supervisor Warren Gaines asked Fells how many dispatchers the center would need should the city chose to operate its own dispatch center.

Fells said the county would need about five.

However, Robert Bradford, emergency management director, responded to Gaines, saying, “It’s not that simple.”

He said the county is responsible for E-911 and those calls would need to be forwarded to the city, which would likely require the county to charge a fee to the city for doing so. The county is responsible for the E-911 equipment, Bradford said.

“I hope we can work this out because I would like to see us stay together,” Gaines said.