The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Top Stories

January 2, 2013

Consolidated dispatching plan proposed for Jasper County

JOPLIN, Mo. — The Jasper County Emergency Services Board has endorsed a consolidation proposal that could result in a single dispatching point for Jasper County’s two largest emergency dispatching services.

The proposal was outlined by Joplin police Chief Lane Roberts during a special meeting Wednesday of the county board.

While consolidation would result in significant savings for the two agencies, Roberts said the primary benefit would be better services for residents who need emergency services and the agencies that provide them.

The plan calls for the county board to contract with Joplin for dispatch services. The operation would be at the larger county emergency dispatch center. The two operating systems would be merged, and the Joplin center would be maintained “for true redundancy,” Roberts said.

County board members authorized representatives of the board to begin negotiations toward a consolidation proposal. Roberts said he will ask the Joplin City Council to grant city representatives the same authority.

The consolidation would address conflicts between Joplin and the county board that started soon after Jasper County voters in April 1994 approved a one-tenth-cent sales tax to fund a countywide 911 dispatching system. Those long-standing conflicts were cited by Roberts in outlining a proposed contractual structure between the two agencies “to ensure all the stakeholders have protection.”

“The idea would be to bring the two (dispatching) centers together and invite the other (cities and emergency service agencies) in,” the chief said.

Under the proposed partnership, the city would provide dispatch services and personnel. The county would provide 911 equipment and technology, addressing services for areas not in the city, and director’s services.

While Joplin and the county center both serve as primary 911 answering points, the county currently has six different dispatch centers handling calls for 12 police departments and 12 fire departments, plus emergency medical services, Roberts said. The agencies operate on five different computer-aided systems, and while the county and Joplin use the same operating software and back up each other’s operations, they maintain totally separate systems. Roberts said at least four different radio systems are used, so many field units cannot communicate without radio relay.

He said the cost of all that is more than $4.5 million per year, so taxpayers are footing the bill for systems that can slow response times and create potentially dangerous situations in which more than one agency is responding to the same call.

April Tarrant, executive director of the county center, said there frequently are instances when dispatchers are responding to the same emergency being reported to separate centers from separate cellphone calls, which now represent about 80 percent of the calls to the centers.

“If we consolidated, they would all be in the same room,” she said.

Despite the differing operations, Roberts said Joplin and the county managed to put together a workable system after the May 22, 2011, tornado, “but it took two days.”

He credited Tarrant and Sunny Goodwin, manager of the Joplin dispatch center, for those efforts and for working together on other cooperative projects.

“This is a huge step that wouldn’t have happened without them,” Roberts said. “They have worked together on a lot of issues. Both centers are pursuing law enforcement dispatch accreditation, so their policies mirror. We back each other up, but we’re not redundant. So if one goes down, there are still transfers and delays.”

Roberts said the merger would save money, provide better service, and respond to calls for consolidation from both the state and federal governments. The concept calls for the operations manager of the center and the approximately 40 employees of both agencies to become Joplin employees. The executive director would continue to be an employee of the county board, which would approve the budget.

Though they had questions, board members were supportive of the proposal.

“This needs to be done, and it’s great that Joplin wants to pursue it,” said Carl Francis, Webb City’s police chief and interim city administrator.

History

A PLANNING COMMITTEE that recommended a 911 sales tax in Jasper County also recommended a single emergency answering point in Joplin, with calls to be transferred to other agencies. After voters approved the tax, elected board members decided that the center should not be in any jurisdiction, and that it should provide dispatching for small police and fire departments that had call transfer and wanted central dispatching. Joplin was designated as the backup site.

1
Text Only
Top Stories
  • r072414msw.jpg VIDEO: Carterville company expands to third generation

    What began as Ray “Mac” McCoy’s side job in his home 55 years ago has grown not only in square footage and reach, but in generations. This summer, a third generation took over the reins of MSW — Mac’s Specialty Woodwork — that now exceeds 90,000 square feet and creates custom furniture for chain restaurants coast to coast.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • r072314techcenter4.jpg Southeast Kansas schools, businesses get behind new technical center

    When Galena Superintendent Brian Smith looks at the millions of dollars of construction projects going on in his district, not to mention similar projects underway in Joplin, Carthage and elsewhere, he sees the need to train masons.

    July 24, 2014 4 Photos

  • Landfill opponents seek answers

    The Baxter Springs High School auditorium was filled with hundreds of Cherokee County residents Thursday night as Galena city officials answered questions and listened to comments regarding a proposed landfill at Riverton.

    July 24, 2014

  • Neosho athletes bring home silver

    For 19-year-old Dominque Dechant, it was the trip of a lifetime. She and three other athletes from Neosho traveled last month to Newark, New Jersey, as part of the Missouri Special Olympics girls basketball team.

    July 24, 2014

  • Hospital Shooting_Cast.jpg Doctor fired back at gunman in hospital attack

    A doctor grazed by gunfire from a patient who had entered his office in a suburban hospital’s psychiatric unit stopped him by returning fire with his own gun and injuring him, authorities said.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 3 To Get Ready

    Three things coming your way in Friday’s Joplin Globe.

    July 24, 2014

  • APTOPIX Vatican Pope.jpg Pope meets Sudanese woman sentenced to death

    Pope Francis met privately Thursday with a Sudanese woman who refused to recant her Christian faith in the face of a death sentence, blessing the woman as she cradled her infant daughter born just weeks ago in prison.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • Box Turtle.jpg Getting reacquainted with garden dwellers

    Visitors to my garden this week find me covered in dust and dirt with bits of wood, leaves and who knows what else caught in my hair; stinky, sweaty gloves; grimy sweat pants and rivulets of dirty perspiration running down my face.

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • mug_sarah-coyne-112613-c.jpg Sarah Coyne: Older kids still find joy in toys

    When she crawled under her covers, she buried her head in her pillow. Then she looked up at me and whispered, "But what if I can't stop thinking about that spider?"

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072414_annie1.JPG Child's play: Kids comprise the cast of 'Annie Jr.'

    The kids are getting a kick out of playing adults. While most of the main characters in "Annie Jr." are orphan children, some, such as Daddy Warbucks, Miss Hannigan and President Roosevelt, are squarely past adulthood.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo