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Richmond Police Chief Terri McWilliams and Fire Chief Lonnie Quick said Monday night that they didn’t get what they expected from a recent audit of the city’s 911-dispatch center.
Both said the audit looked at funding and equipment, but did not address procedures or safety issues.
McWilliams told the Public Safety Committee last night that Missouri Information Security Director R. D. Porter, who compiled the audit, did not even look at the city’s dispatch center nor did he take any paperwork with him.
She said Porter asked her to fill out a questionnaire before his visit that mainly asked questions about equipment. She said Porter visited with her, Quick, and a couple of other dispatchers for about 20 minutes before leaving.
City Councilwoman Melissa Miller asked McWilliams if she thought the audit was based mainly on the questionnaire to which McWilliams replied yes.
Quick said he asked Porter about looking at procedures and safety, but was told by Porter that he was not there to look at those things.
“I thought they were going to audit the actual function of the dispatch and safety side of it and issues like that,” Quick said. “If you’ve got all the greatest technology and equipment that there is you can still have very serious problems.”
Quick said that safety was the main reason the city broke away from Ray County Dispatch and financial issues were second. Quick suggested that others were using the County 911 and the City 911 audits to combine the centers back together. He said he bases his opinion off of stories he has read in The Daily News.
“In some respects this is being used as a tool to try and put the agencies back together,” Quick said. “Well, by some of the articles, not by (Porter), but I’ve seen articles in the paper.”
Central Dispatch Board President Mike Arnold requested the Ray County 911 Dispatch assessment. Mayor Lance Green requested the City’s 911 audit. The county requested their audit on March 27, 2008, while the city requested their audit on July 9, 2008.
Miller asked Quick if there was anybody that assesses safety and procedure issues for 911 centers.
“I don’t think so,” Quick said. “I think we can evaluate that ourselves.”
McWilliams said financially it did not make sense for the city either. She said the county presented a deal with the city for dispatch services for fire and police that totaled $122,500 a year. She said once rent was included the total bill for the city was near $325,000 a year to house the police department and perform dispatch. She said she did not feel like the county was giving the city a fair deal.
“Even the commissioners said if we can’t reach an agreement we’ll help you pack the boxes,” she said. “It would be non-beneficial to our taxpayers if they have to pay that $120,000 on top of what we’re doing already.”
She said the person that dispatches for the city has to be in the police station anyway to take phone calls and reports.
“The people we have sitting behind that window have to be there,” McWilliams said. “If we had them there and they were not dispatching, that wouldn’t make sense to me.”
Miller suggested, like the report suggested, that the city and county sit down and put the issue back on the table.