Montgomery County And City Dispatch Centers Could Receive Upgrades


By Catalina Trivino

Right now when you call 911, you'll speak to someone on dispatch, who then sends an officer to the call location. But the county and city are trying to turn its dispatch centers' telephone system to respond more like a cellphone, so that it can receive text messages and photos.

Dispatchers at the Montgomery County Sheriff's office receive dozens of calls a day.

With crime being so unpredictable, dispatchers say the call volume can skyrocket any minute. But Chief Deputy, Derrick Cunningham, there's a next generation call center they're hoping to install in the county and city. Instead of dialing 911, callers could send a text message about a crime they're witnessing or send a photo of the scene.

"They may be going to a traffic accident and you can actually take a picture with your telephone and forward that to dispatch. Dispatch can then forward that to first responders and they'll know exactly what they're dealing with while they're in route to that call," Said Cunningham.

Cunningham says the system could cost between $400,000 and $700,000. Montgomery resident, John Davis, says the resources are worth it, but he hopes the city and county can cut down the cost.

"There are situations when you might not necessarily want whatever is going to hear you on the phone. You know, you might be trying to be silent. or something like that and instead you can send a quick text," Said Davis.

Cunningham says that quick text or photo would help dispatchers process calls more efficiently, so they won't have to re-type information. And that hopes to cut down the response time of a crime.

Royale Singleton, another Montgomery resident, believes sending texts to dispatchers may not be the best idea.
"The way the phones are now, they pretty much... you may put in one thing and it actually may put in something else, so it may send the wrong message to the dispatcher versus the people actually on the phone talking to them, explaining to them exactly what's going on," Said Singleton.

Cunningham says the current system is about 10 years old. And it only has a caller ID. So now, it's up to the county commission to see whether they'll get the money to fund it.

Cunningham alsosays if the county and system choose to install the new system, it would take about seven months before it could be put to use.