Iredell County announces major changes to emergency communications operations

Posted at 9:30 AM on Mar 8, 2018

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FROM STAFF REPORTS

Iredell County officials on Thursday announced systematic changes to the county's Emergency Communications operations following a review of issues raised by Sheriff Darren Campbell.

A Public Safety Task Forced worked with the sheriff to develop new training standards and revamp ECOM hiring and staffing protocols, according to a news release from the county manager's office.

The most significant changes are the creation of a special division within ECOM that will be reponsible for handling law enforcement-related calls and the establishment of an ECOM oversight board headed by the sheriff.

“I feel this will be a great relationship between ECOM and Iredell Sheriff’s Office and beneficial to all users with the creation of this board," Campell said in the news release. "I am passionate about officer safety and training so, in turn, we can deliver top-tier service to the citizens of Iredell County. In addition, this agreement will save taxpayer money. Law enforcement calls for service account for approximately 50 percent of ECOM’s call volume. With specialized training, law enforcement dispatchers can be better prepared to give accurate information."

The changes include creating a specialized dispatch operation that will:

Oversee the effective receipt of calls for routine and emergency assistance, based on established structured call-intake protocols, and to coordinate response resources to those calls for service based on the needs of the caller and the direction of field response agencies;

Provide participating agencies with a single contact point for the receipt of emergency-assistance requests;

Establish governance of coordinated law enforcement dispatch and radio communications services for Law Enforcement;

Provide the public and field response agency with trained, certified and/or credentialed 911 communications personnel who specialize in their assigned law enforcement area of expertise;

Provide for recommendations related to the oversight and management of the law enforcement dispatch function within a consolidated communication center by creating a Law Enforcement Dispatch Governance Board (LEDGB);

Facilitate coordination and responsiveness to the law enforcement field responder agencies by creating such Governance Board; and

Provide a mechanism for additions or withdrawal of parties from this interlocal agreement.

Acting Couty Manager Beth Jones said the changes would benefit all public safety agencies.

“This is an exciting step towards creating a scalable model for partnership and collaboration with other law enforcement dispatch agencies -- not just in Iredell County but regionally as well," Jones said. "The creation of a specialized law enforcement dispatch division allows us the ability to specialize our services to all of our public safety departments, including EMS, Fire, and Rescue.”

The new Governance Board will be comprised of the sheriff or designee, serving as chair; the ECOM/911 director or designee; the ECOM/911 Supervisor; the ICSO attorney; the ICSO Enforcement Representative; and Troutman Police Department chief or designee. In the event of a tie vote by this board, the county manager or designee will cast the deciding vote.

The Law Enforcement Dispatch Division will consist of dedicated law enforcement dispatchers in ECOM. These positions will receive specialized training specific to law enforcement dispatch. The training and protocols governing these dispatchers will be designed and approved by the Governing Board. There will initially be two telecommunicators per shift specializing in law enforcement dispatch. The development of standard operating procedures, hiring of dispatchers, specialized law enforcement training, corrective actions, and oversight of this division will be the responsibility of the Govering Board.

ECOM Director Candy Strezinski said the revamped system would help telecommunicatorsprovide better service.

“As Iredell County continues to grow; we have seen a vast increase in emergency and non-emergency calls for service," Strezinski said. "We have an amazing group of telecommunicators, focused on saving lives one call at a time. We hope that this restructuring will better distribute the workload for efficiency, with more focused expertise in each discipline.”

This changes are effective April 1.

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