911 call center celebrates its first decade


Local News

January 10, 2020 - 10:23 AM

Allen County 911 dispatcher Roy Harmon, facing, speaks with a caller on Friday morning, while Jason Trego, emergency management director, waits for a call. REGISTER/ERIC SPRUILL

Angela Murphy sits in her office reflecting on how far the 911 dispatch center has come in its 10 years.

In that time the department has moved from under the auspices of the city to the county; and from a tiny office in the police department to a stand-alone 911 response center that has become the benchmark for the state.

It wasn?t an easy sell convincing workers to come work for the county, Murphy said.

?Everyone was wondering what would happen to their benefits,? Murphy said. ?But the county commissioners agreed to absorb everyone?s benefits. It was really eye-opening to the staff when they realized the county believed in them. Everyone was going to keep their job.?

The 911 Center used to be under the control of the police department, where they were hindered by a lack of space and equipment.

Iola police chief Jared Warner said making the department its own separate entity has improved the dispatch center.

?They were here in this tiny office with consoles that were on their last leg. By making them their own separate entity, it gave them their own space. And from a technological aspect, they have more room for better equipment,? Warner said. ?I believe the quality has improved and it has made them more streamlined.?

Emergency Management also made the move to the new building from the sheriff?s office.

Murphy said it made so much sense to have the two under the same roof so they could collaborate together.

In 2010, emergency management services joined that of dispatch at the new center.

A grant helped pay for almost 100% of the new equipment.

?When we first moved over here the county did not have it budgeted to take over dispatch. We had this small amount of money to make this happen, so thankfully we were able to do it with the grant funds,? Murphy said.

She went on to say commissioners Dick Works and Tom Williams were essential in making the transition happen flawlessly.

Commissioners put together a 911 Advisory Board, which consists of the sheriff, every police chief in the county, as well as the fire chief and EMS director.

She said this ensures that she follows the rules when it comes to criminal history. Otherwise, the department would not have access to the information, because they are regarded as civilians.