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Nebraska city, county consolidate dispatch center

July 14, 2018

COLUMBUS, Neb. (AP) — A county sheriff’s office and a city’s police and fire departments are trying to improve services to eastern Nebraska residents by unifying their dispatch centers.

The Columbus City Council and the Platte County Board of Supervisors announced the new Joint Communications Center earlier this month, the Columbus Telegram reported .

“It’s to hopefully give better service to the entire area — not just in the city, but for the whole county,” Columbus City Council President Charlie Bahr said.

The city agreed to fund the initial costs of operation and provide the building. The county will supply equipment and reimburse the city for continuing operating costs.

Emergency calls incoming to the Columbus Police Department from outside city limits often experience a delay because callers need to be transferred to the county sheriff’s office, Bahr said. The joint center omits the middle person and will transfer emergency calls directly to the specific department in charge.

Platte County Sheriff Ed Wemhoff said its existing dispatchers will be transferred to the central center. “Nobody will be losing their jobs,” he said.

The Columbus Police Department will be training its dispatchers to respond to calls for the county sheriff’s office and to operate the center’s new equipment, said Police Capt. Todd Thalken.

“Consolidation is always a good word,” Thalken said. “It will be better sharing as far as making sure things get dispatched correctly and making sure the calls get to the right place.”

County Supervisor James Scow said the county will consider implementing a tax to cover the costs of ongoing expenses at the joint center. He said the issue will be discussed during an upcoming county budget meeting.


Information from: Columbus Telegram, http://www.columbustelegram.com

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