911 Committee talks about system upgrade

Published 3:36 pm Tuesday, April 21, 2009

At the quarterly meeting of the Decatur-Grady 911 Committee, members discussed the need to upgrade their Public Safety Radio Communications System in the future.

At the meeting, held on Thursday, April 16, E-911 Director Tonya Griffin informed members of the committee that a recent lightning strike had damaged one of the five boards used by dispatchers. The board was sent to Motorola, which the Decatur County Board of Commissioners has a service agreement with for repairs and technical support.

The company informed them that there were no replacement boards or spare boards available for the system, Centracom Series II Plus, which came out in 1985 and was purchased by the county in 1994. Griffin informed the committee if another board went down, it would become extremely difficult to maintain E-911 services for the two counties.

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“If it goes down, at that point we’re going to have to look at upgrading the consoles,” said Griffin. She said the cost of the upgrade she was quoted on was approximately $350,000.

Grady County Administrator Rusty Moye as well as other committee members agreed that it would be beneficial to bring in an outside consultant to provide the committee with information on current trends with radio communications systems, prior to upgrading the current system.

“I would hate to see us put a lot of money into the system when there is a better deal out there,” said Decatur County Administrator Tom Patton.

Members also discussed the possibility of purchasing a used system from an E-911 center that has recently upgraded to a new system.

The committee then approved a new service agreement with Motorola. Griffin said she was still very satisfied with the company’s technical support, repairs and advanced replacement of infrastructure.

Officials on the committee from both counties discussed the possibility of having a full-time information technology (IT) employee that could service both counties with there being so much reliance on computers and technology in local governments.

“The more we can pull together, the better it will be for all of us,” said Committee Chairman Palmer Rich.

Griffin also reported that there are currently two full-time vacancies and one part-time vacancy at the E-911 center. She said she recently held an application orientation and is currently reviewing the 20 applications she received for the positions.

National Telecommunicator’s Week

In honor of National Telecommunicator’s Week, a special dinner was held at the Decatur County Sheriff’s Office for the E-911 employees.

Recently elected Decatur-Grady E-911 Committee Chairman Palmer Rich thanked all the employees for their hard work.

“It’s a pleasure to know that people like you are on these [dispatch] boards, and we appreciate the service you do for the citizens of Decatur and Grady counties,” said Rich.

He said he personally has an emergency radio scanner at home, which he listens to.

“I know what you do, and I know you do it real well,” he said. He went on to further express the level of professionalism used each day by dispatchers, acknowledging the long hours and trying situations the job entails.

Dispatchers then enjoyed a barbecue dinner catered by Laura Darley, which included pulled pork, coleslaw, potato salad, baked beans and strawberry shortcake for desert.

Following dinner, Griffin passed out gift bags to all the employees.

Special recognition was given to dispatchers Casey Alday, Martha Reynolds and Nikki Griffin for their efforts that led to the capture of a shooting suspect.

At the time of the shooting, which occurred at Hutto-McIver Apartments on March 25, the Georgia Criminal Information Computer was not functioning. The three dispatchers personally called numerous agencies in the surrounding area, alerting them to be on the lookout for the suspect. Thanks to their efforts, a suspect, Robert Jason Crot, was arrested by the Camilla Police Department.

“All three were instrumental in the capture of this fugitive, and words will never state the importance of their or any dispatcher’s job,” wrote Brock in a letter of commendation from Bainbridge Public Safety Investigator Alton Brock to Griffin.