Communication board considers consolidating dispatch

Published 3:47 pm Thursday, April 14, 2011

Members of the Emergency Communications Advisory Board discussed consolidating all emergency dispatch communications into a central location.

The decision to conduct such a move would have to come as the result of discussions between the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors, Poplarville’s Board of Alderman and Picayune’s City Council.

The advisory board was established at the recommendation of the Board of Supervisors to provide board members with information and direction in regard to emergency communications and E-911 matters, Pearl River County Emergency Management communications officer David Moore said. The advisory board consists of the Poplarville Police and Fire Chiefs, Picayune Police and Fires Chief and Pearl River County Sheriff and Emergency Management Director Danny Manley as the representative for all county volunteer fire departments, Moore said.

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Moore said he estimates the cost of constructing a central dispatch building, moving the existing equipment and adding the necessary furniture would cost about $300,000. One possible location for the building would be next to the EOC building in Poplarville, Moore said. Building it in a municipality would ensure emergency communications, especially phone service, would be continuous during a natural disaster, Picayune Fire Chief Keith Brown said. Moore said there is too much distance between the jail in Millard, where the Sheriff’s Department houses its dispatch, and the nearest telephone line junction.

That estimate Moore cited was for a 1,000 square foot building that would provide stations for five dispatchers at a time. Moore said he is applying for a grant that would reinforce the building, making it capable of withstanding winds of up to 160 miles per hour. The whole project is still in the discussion phase and has not been presented to the city council, board of alderman or the board of supervisors for approval, Brown said.

The advisory board also is considering implementing a new digital communications system county wide. Currently, the Sheriff’s Department is testing the new system using digital radios. Moore said the digital radios were acquired through a grant and issued to the county Emergency Communications District, which is essentially the county EOC. The EOC in turn issued the radios to the Sheriff’s Department for testing, he said.

Moore said he has applied for a grant of $400,000, which would require a county match of $100,000, to provide radios to both municipal police and fire departments and additional radios to the sheriff’s department. The board of supervisors has agreed to allocate the match money, Moore said.

At the last advisory board meeting, members learned that a couple of deputies testing the new system were having issues with digital radio’s reception. Members learned at the same meeting that most officers have found the digital radios to be more reliable than the old ones. Capt. Kelvin Stanford with the Pearl River County Sheriff’s Department said he believes the reception issues faced by those few deputies can be resolved by adding an adjustable antenna to the radios that can reach above the plane of a vehicle’s door.