It's All About Your Safety: Columbus 911 Center Gets Major Upgrades

By Lindsey Connell - bio | e-mail | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  As the Columbus Police force continues to expand, the need for more 911 dispatchers to field their calls is evident.

That's why the 911 Center is getting a makeover, including new technology and personnel.

"It's the first time in fifteen to twenty years that we've increased like this," said Lieutenant Paul Ezell, Director of the Columbus 911 Center.

In the budget for 2010, city officials are proposing the creation of 9 new emergency dispatcher positions.

Police say that'll go hand in hand with the creation of 10 new police beats and reorganization of the city's dispatch zones from 2 to 3.

"The increase in officers will take care of the response time, it'll cut that down but if we can't give them the calls in a more timely manner then that doesn't come into play. They have to have those calls quicker and more efficiently to increase their response," added Ezell.

Besides new personnel, the 911 Center is also upgrading it's mobile data system to get information to the blue and whites on the streets faster.

The $1.5 million upgrade with Local Option Sales Tax funds is basically taking the department's mobile data system from dial up to DSL speed.

"We'll be able to let the cars know exactly what we know. They'll see what the dispatchers sees. They'll get all the information from the call taker directly in the cars without us having to break it down and send it via the voice system. It'll go directly into the computer system," said Major Stan Swiney, Director of Support Services for the Columbus Police Department.

"It basically grows the system as the officer count grows," Swiney added.

"The safety factor for the citizens- they'll get the help a lot quicker," Ezell said.

The new dispatcher positions are part of the proposed budget for 2010.

If the budget is approved by council in June,those newly created jobs will become effective this July.

Officials in the police department say if they get the green light in July, they'll try to fill the positions as soon as possible.

That way,the new dispatchers can go through training before the full 36 police beats become effective in late fall.

Those interested in applying for the positions can file their applications with the department now.

To qualify, you must have a high school diploma, be at least 18 years old with a drug and crime-free record and be able to type a minimum of twenty words a minute.