COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - You see patrol cars on the streets and in your neighborhoods but who directs Columbus patrol officers to emergencies and crimes? That all starts in the basement of the Public Safety Building.
Now that the force is expanding by 100 new officers so is the city's 911 Center to field their calls.
It's all made possible with the money raised by the Local Option Sales Tax.
"We have a new DMV console which does extended computer work for the officers in the field. We also have 7 call-taking positions that we man to take calls from the public as well as a special operations console," said Major Stan Swiney, as the department unveiled the newly renovated center Thursday.
"It gives them a little more breathing room. They don't have the calls back logged and they can get them to the cars quicker and that's what you see here today. We were getting a lot of complaints prior to the penny being passed, prior to the addition of the officers and prior to the expansion of this center and those complaints do not exist today," added Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren.
And even those new to the job say the new consoles and space help make every second count.
"You can help catch a suspect when there's a burglary because you're able to get the suspect information in right then. You're able to put the call in. You're able to update the dispatcher and dispatchers can update the officers and it's just a great process," said newly hired call-taker Kathryn Coleman.
So far, the Columbus Police Department has hired 86 out of the 100 new officers.
The city has gone from 26 to 36 beats with the addition of those new patrol units. The police department has also divided the city into three sections instead of two and added another dispatch channel to help make response time faster.
Officials say all of these changes have cut the time emergency calls are dispatched nearly in half.