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News : Outdated 911 Center Could Move
Mount Vernon, MO, USA, March 5, 2015 -- The Lawrence County 911 center could soon see some big changes.
The call center could be moving to Barry County which is about 25 minutes from the current center.
Lawrence County 911 dispatchers take emergency calls for most of the county, but they also have some other tasks – that’s because the call center is smack dab in the center of the Lawrence County Jail.
"We answer and handle all of the incoming 911 calls," said Neal Edgar.
Edgar has been a Lawrence County dispatcher for 13 years. Because he works inside of the jail he has to multi-task.
"We stay very busy with entering stolen articles, and things like that in state computers, and maintaining warrant files."
Dispatchers also control all the doors inside the jail.
"The doors are controlled through a panel."
Now the Lawrence County Commission may move the 911 center to Monett in Barry county - that's because its equipment is outdated.
"Thing's don't get upgraded until they literally completely go out," explained Lawrence County Sheriff Brad Delay.
He says the department's mapping system hasn't been updated in since 2005.
"We're talking about 10 years of new roads, new subdivisions etcetera that are not on our mapping system that we use, and that is uncalled for. We can't find places without having to do a hunt and peck.
Another problem is an old radio system. "If they're out in Lawrenceburg [they] cannot get dispatch on their portable radio."
So the county is considering paying Monett to take over its dispatch - that's something the sheriff's office thinks is a bad idea.
"My overall goal is to improve what we have. By simply moving it to Monett we're not improving the service."
That's because Monett’s dispatch is outdated as well.
"It's about the same age, and has about the same problems," said Edgar.
On top of that, if 911 is moved out the jail, the county will still have to pay people to operate this room - opening doors and doing paperwork.
"Even if they took us out of this room and moved us down there, it's going to cost the county more money to re-staff this room."
So the sheriff's office is asking for upgrades, instead of a move.
"A this point really the best option for us is upgrading what we have," said Delay.
The sheriff says a county attorney is already looking over a contract from the 911 center in Monett. If approved, the center could move sometime this summer.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Friday, March 6, 2015