HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - The Boone County Emergency Services office combined dispatchers for Harrison Police Department, Boone County Sheriffs Office, and 911 to one location. This is a part of Arkansas’ “New Generation 911 service” which looks to improve emergency communications across the state.
The state’s 127 public safety answering points (PSAPs) handle more than 1.6 million 911 calls each year.
“If you called 911 back before September 1, and you wanted the Harrison Police, you had to tell that dispatcher your name, address, phone number, and what the issue was,” said Daniel Bolen, who is the Boone County 911 Director. “Then she’d transfer you to the Harrison police and you’d have to repeat that process all over.”
In 2019, the Arkansas Legislature passed Act 660, which dealt with reducing the number of public safety answering stations in the state.
”We decided to combine our different dispatch centers with Harrison Police, Boone County Sheriffs office, and 911 into one building,” said Bolen.
Bolen says the move is reducing the number of public safety access points from 127 to 77, and also introducing new technology to help locate callers to quickly address issues.
”It’s reducing the call time, it’s taking away the risk of losing a caller during a transfer, and it’s able to help the dispatcher get help there quicker,” he explained.
Boone County Chief Deputy Roy Martin says quicker dispatch has further improved efficiency for an agency recently outfitted with new laptops.
”One of the big benefits is time, and anytime you save time for your officers it makes it better for the people,” said Martin.
Martin, who recently announced he would run for sheriff, says the agency is always looking for ways to improve its enforcement, and small things like this can make a big difference.
And it’s not only a boost for the community.
” It’s been very beneficial for dispatchers, so the caller states their name, what their problem is, verify address and phone number, and then the officer or fire department is dispatched from here,” Bolen said.
The initiative is being paid for through a 911 surcharge increase on wireless phone contracts within the state. The bump from $0.65 a month to $1.30 went into place when the bill was passed in 2019.
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