Response time to law enforcement has improved since the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and Monroe County 911 began recently streamlined for a central dispatch system. Now, instead of calling the sheriff’s office directly for emergency calls, people should call 911 or its administrative line at 369-3683.
Non-emergency calls are still being taken at the MCSO’s number at 369-2468, which are relayed to the proper channels.
“What people consider normally as not as an emergency need to be thinking if they need the police now, dial 911,” said Monroe County Sheriff Kevin Crook. “Our deputies are excited about it. It’s going to take some getting used to from our end with radio talk and the changeover. It’s different ways of everyone doing things, and we’re trying to get that streamlined.”
Anyone needing to see anyone at the sheriff’s office face to face should go there between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. It is located at 700 N. Meridian St. in Aberdeen.
Through the central dispatch system, two to three dispatchers are working 24 hours a day at the 911 office.
“It was having to go from the call going from one dispatcher to another dispatcher and out to traffic and if an officer had something to say, it went back. If you’re on the phone with a caller, you’re talking to the deputy. That has saved a lot of time,” said Monroe County 911 Director Donna Sanderson.
While the 911 dispatcher stays on the line with a caller, a second dispatcher listening in dispatches the proper agencies such as ambulance and fire services. Crook said that system also helps take out human error. Having more dispatchers helps with other 911 calls as well.
Central dispatch was first discussed in October, and training has been ongoing since shortly after then.
“Tanya Willems is the 911 dispatch supervisor and she has done a fine job. She has been there many, many, many hours over this transition to make sure everything went right,” Sanderson said.
She and Crook describe merging the offices’ dispatchers under the same roof is like the beginning of a new family. They were all welcomed together recently at an event hosted at Pickle Barrel.
“From what I’ve heard this is something that needed to happen years ago, and we’re not pulling back now. As far as law enforcement as a whole and 911 as a whole, this is the direction it is going in other counties,” Crook said.
For the transition, Sanderson said work center inmate labor helped save thousands of dollars in expenses for carpentry and wires being run at the 911 office.
Positions for experienced and certified dispatchers are still being taken through the county’s website, www.monroems.com under the Job Opportunities link under the General Information tab.