City and county discuss consolidation for 911

Consolidation for the Richmond and County 911 dispatch centers may not be that far away.
The entire City Council, except for Jason Berning, attending the Ray County 911 Board meeting on Thursday night to get discussions going.
The city and board met last March when it was decided that both entities would have an assessment performed by State Information Security Director R.D. Porter.
Porter performed the assessments last summer and the final results were released for the county in November and the city released theirs in January.
Chairman of the Richmond Public Safety Committee Bob Bond referenced the assessments and stories written by The Daily News. Bond pointed to a quote by Porter suggesting the two entities met to consolidate.
“To me that says it all,” Bond said.
The two groups agreed last night to meet again next Thursday at the County 911 offices. Each group will send a delegation of three or four members. The city will bring call for service data and exactly what services they are looking for to the meeting. Once the information is on the table, the 911 boards will submit a proposal.
Councilmen were also concerned about the duplication of services. County 911 Director Scott Enss told the city that all services are being duplicated except for cell phone calls. The county has the capabilities to handle cell phone calls but the city does not. Cell phone calls are routed to County 911 and then calls are transferred to the city. County 911 also dispatches Ray County Ambulance District.
Richmond Police Chief Terri McWilliams included upgrades in this year’s budget to obtain cell phone capabilities; however, Enss disputes the city’s ability to operate the system. Enss said the cell phone contracts are through the Mid America Regional Council and the county has an agreement with MARC.
McWilliams said that’s not true.
“We are now holding in our hand, letters from each of the cell phone carriers telling us absolutely they can do the grid,” McWilliams said.
“We would dispute that you have the capability or the authority to do that,” said County 911 Board Member Malcolm Cunningham.
MARC Public Safety Program Director Keith Faddis told The Daily News that a cell phone tower face couldn’t tell if a call is coming from inside city limits or outside. He said the software in the tower only allows the call to be transferred to one point of contact.
Faddis said there are legal issues involved if the city wanted to take over the cell phone capabilities. Faddis said historically MARC enters agreements with the larger entity, which in this case would be the county.
“If you hit that face whether you’re in Richmond or Ray County, it’s going to have to go to one or the other,” Faddis said. “I can’t say they can’t do it but technically we can only have one jurisdiction for each face. There’s potential problems with this.”

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