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Author Topic: Sheriff's Department Dispatch  (Read 1073 times)

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Offline Valor7

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Sheriff's Department Dispatch
« on: June 17, 2007, 08:40:50 PM »


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                                             Sheriff’s Department Dispatch

The removal of the dispatch function from the Office of the Pulaski County Sheriff would be a critical mistake. It is simply not feasible for a wide variety of reasons. The operational side of the Sheriff’s Office is similar to a triangle. The three legs are, dispatch, jail, and road. Remove one and the other two will collapse. The effects of the dispatch removal would also hinder a wide variety of other courthouse functions. The cost savings from moving dispatch would not be worth the risks. In 2006, the dispatch function cost us $97,023.00. I believe that when you add up the cost associated with the removal of dispatch, the move will not be cost effective or work effective when viewed from the totality of the circumstances that would apply to this move.

The removal of dispatch would mean the loss of the employees who answer all telephone calls. Many of these calls are for other departments in the courthouse. It would mean the loss of the employees who greet the public visiting the courthouse on business. It would mean that I would have to move the two administrative staff people from their office to the front window from 8-5 to answer the calls and greet people. The volume of work at the front window would have a serious effect on the jobs these two employees complete. They track all civil and criminal process issued by the circuit court. They review all bills for accuracy before they are submitted for payment. They collect all monies paid to the Sheriff and turn them over to the Pulaski County Treasurer. They track the department’s police training records and process citizen applications for the purchase of concealable firearms and CCW permits. In short their work is tied to the Pulaski County Circuit Court and they must work normal courthouse hours. They do not have the time to sit at the front desk and take calls or greet visitors. We cannot afford to have their assigned jobs lose efficiency because of the forced addition of more duties.

The removal of dispatch would mean that after 5:00pm the one jail staff member on duty would be completely alone without any form of backup. This is a risk in the area of jail security that could have very serious consequences. We would be placing the jailor in harms way without adequate safety measures to prevent serious injury or death. At this time the inmates are well aware that the dispatcher on duty knows when the jailor is in the back and monitors his movements on the jail camera system. Any escape attempt would risk failure because the dispatcher would sound an immediate alarm. Time in an escape attempt would be critical for the inmates; they would have to move fast to prevent the dispatch alarm. Removal of the dispatcher would change everything and make an escape attempt much more likely to have success. It would also greatly increase the chance that such an escape would be attempted. At this time we immediately move any inmate we suspect might pose an escape risk to the Phelps County jail. But we cannot read their minds and someday we will miss the one inmate who does have such a plan. As I stated in my written budget report the jail has an inadequate security construction and we need to cover every weakness we can find.

Bonding procedures for inmates would become more complex. A bondsman would have to make telephone contact with the jail and set up an appointment. If the jailor were in the jail area and not up front, bondsmen, food service delivery, and others would have to wait outside the building until he could come back up front. In a medical emergency a lot of time would be wasted as the jailer locks and unlocks door to get the medics into and out of the building several times for each emergency. We would have the expense of a new communication system from the front of the building to the jail office. The normal court ordered child exchange between parents with custody issues that takes place in front of the Sheriff’s Office for security reasons would lose the security feature. Before an inmate could be released the jailor would have to call the 911 Center for a wanted check to comply with current state law.

As part of our security routine for the jail the dispatchers check all persons who wish to enter the jail area for any reason against the warrant database prior to their entry into the foyer of the Sheriff’s Office. Since all but one of our dispatchers is female and all of our jail staff is male, they also assist by searching and dressing out newly arrived female inmates before they are placed in a jail cell. We have on occasion in the past used our female dispatchers as a ride along assistant with a male jail staff member who is transporting a female inmate to another jail or hospital. At this time we only have two full time female officers available for duty so the loss of the female dispatchers for assistance in the jail will be critical.

Normal visitation for the inmates on Sunday would require two officers to be present for the day because of the security risk and the smuggling of contraband risk. This would add an extra officer salary to be used up every Sunday. (About $4,200.00 per year) As already stated we do not let anyone into the building who wants to visit the jail or an inmate without a security check first.

The security of the Pulaski County Circuit Court would also be lowered. After 5:00pm there would be no one to monitor the courtroom alarms or the courtroom cameras. The courtroom staff would have to call 911 for help. It is not unusual for the Pulaski County Circuit Court to continue well into the evening hours for many trials. The alarms and cameras are in the dispatch area.

Public access to the courthouse would also end at 5:00pm. Besides the many people who try to do business with the Sheriff’s Office after 5:00pm we get a lot of people who are trying to contact the Waynesville City Police because their station is also closed. We have people show up at the front door with an emergency situation and they will not be happy to find the door locked. There are also a number of classes, including court ordered classes that are conducted in the courthouse after 5:00pm. However these classes should not be a big problem because the janitorial staff or someone from the County Clerk’s office could stay in the building after hours on those specific nights to allow people entry to the building. I should also note that we are the only department of Pulaski County government to stay open at the courthouse after 5:00pm. If a citizen needs to contact any other Pulaski County department or has a question, we usually take the first call and give them a referral number.

We normally have between 75 to 100 calls each night of a general business type. There would be nobody to answer those calls. The normal operation of the road function requires a lot of follow up contact between victims, suspects, and officers. Without dispatch to assist in the arraignments the time and cost factor of follow up contact will also increase. A single officer interviewing a suspect at this time at the Sheriff’s Office has the dispatcher as a person who can sound the alarm if something bad happens. Our detective division would suffer because they use dispatch to make many searches and data checks in an attempt to acquire background and other information on suspects and to assist in building a case for a search or arrest warrant. Our current staff of dispatchers have a good deal of past knowledge of information on the residence locations and people that we frequently deal with. They are able to immediately warn officers of dangerous offenders as part of their normal routine before they even make a computer check.

The loss of the MULES terminal would also have a price. The 911 Center will not do the MULES work for free. They will charge. I spoke to Michelle Graves on Friday after the Commission meeting that she attended. She recalled the old charge for MULES service as $42,000.00. But she was not positive and said she would have to check the price. Since those days there has been an explosion in the field of orders of protection so any such MULES charge would probably be higher now. 

There would be other costs. The many thousands of criminal histories and other background checks that are needed for routine business could be done by telephone but the paper copy would have to be picked up at the 911 Center. This would mean a lot of trips. For example the two administrative employees would probably make several trips each day as the court paperwork moved back and forth between the offices. If an officer was in the station writing a statement of probable cause for a criminal charge and needed such a document he would have to stop his report, drive to the 911 Center, sign for the document and then return to the office to resume his report. Under the current system all he has to do is walk 30 feet and pick up the document. Criminal history information from NCIC is protected information. It cannot be broadcast over the air; the papers must be signed for in person, and entered onto a log sheet, before the information will be released to the person requesting the information. Any violations of this procedure are both a criminal and civil violation.

The same rules would apply to the Prosecutors office, the Juvenile office, and anyone else who needed such reports. So instead of taking the elevator to the Sheriff’s Office they would also drive to the 911 Center. These trips would represent a total waste of taxpayer money and employee time. We as a County employer would be obligated to furnish employees with a company car for the trip or the repayment of mileage. This would mean more expense to our County budget. The loss of productive county employee time traveling to the 911 Center, waiting for someone to assist them, and then returning to the courthouse would be tremendous and each employee hour lost carries an expense cost. I have no way to predict the expense for this loss of time.

While it is only 0.90 miles to the 911 Center from the Courthouse it will require a 1.8 mile round trip.  During the course of a full year this would add up to additional expense in gasoline or mileage. I have no way to predict the expense on this issue.

I have not addressed the technical aspects of such a move, transferring MULES files, adding or removing radios, phone lines and so forth. The 911 Center would have to hire and train more people to handle our traffic. The addition of our workload onto the 911 Center will cause them problems.

As the elected Sheriff of Pulaski County I believe that the total Sheriff’s Office operation depends on my ability to retain the dispatch function at my office under my control. The loss of dispatch would be a disaster for us.

Sheriff J. B. King

Offline Valor7

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Re: Sheriff's Department Dispatch
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2007, 08:58:04 PM »
I gave this report to the Commissioners during the 2007 budget hearings. I decided to once again post this message since it was no longer on the board.