Sheriff asks city for help with 9-1-1 center upgrade


EATON — During a Monday, March 18, regular city council meeting, Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson requested the City of Eaton’s help in completing an upgrade of the combined dispatch center located at the Preble County Sheriff’s Office.

“I think it were at about the five year period, pretty close to that, since we merged dispatch centers into one 9-1-1 center,” Simpson told council. “With that, I think we’ve been doing a pretty good job. We have a great working relationship with the City of Eaton, both your your police and your fire and EMS, and are always looking for ways to improve that.

“With that said, many of you probably know that we moved our patrol and our detective section down to Junction Village, which the county now owns, in order to make room for a new dispatch center,” he continued.

Simpson noted, the current dispatch center had long before outgrown its space.

“So in 2024, we have a project that’s going to go forward to replace all of our workstations and furniture in the 9-1-1 center. We’re going to be replacing all of the 9-1-1 hardware and software as well, and all the radio equipment will be updated as part of that plan to get us ready for the next 10 or 15 years,” he explained. “The county, through the budgetary process, has budgeted money from the 9-1-1 wireless fund that the county collects on all of our cell phones, plus that $5 per parcel that we collect and have collected since 1993 when 9-1-1 was first implemented in Preble County.”

“I am here tonight to ask the city council to consider partnering with the county commissioners to add a fourth position,” Simpson said. “We currently have three dispatch positions now. And with this project, we want to add a fourth position to that. So I’m making a request to city council to consider covering the cost of a radio position, for that fourth position. Without going into a lot of detail, this fourth position will have 9-1-1 capability. We can have a fourth dispatcher there in the event of an emergency and do some other administrative duties that we need to do.”

He continued, “Based on the quote that we received for this project, Motorola is estimating that the extra radio position is going to cost about $73,000. So with that I’m making a request for council tonight to consider doing that.”

Simpson stressed, “This is not a annual request from the county or anything of that nature. It’s basically a capital request on my behalf to be able to fund that fourth position.”

According to statistics across 2021, 2022 and 2023, “When you’re looking at total calls for service how many of those were to City of Eaton, how many of those were for the Sheriff’s Office and then the remainder for the other public safety entities in the county, typically, when you look at all three years, we’re pretty close about 36 percent for Eaton public safety, 36 percent for the Sheriff’s Office, and the remainder is the other public safety entities,” Simpson noted.

“One thing I do want to note, in 2023, we answered over 76,000 phone calls in the dispatch center and that includes your 9-1-1 and your non-emergency calls. And I’m really proud of the staff we have — out of those calls, 97 percent were answered within three seconds. So I’m pretty proud of the staff that we put together. And the fact that they’re on it and they’re answering phone calls as quick as they can.”

Simpson said Preble County Commissioners have committed about $310,000 for the project. “And I’m asking the council to consider maybe funding that fourth radio position at that $73,000 mark,” he said. “We’re not going to add any additional personnel but we’re going to have the availability to have four people sitting in that room dispatching simultaneously. Based on scheduling, you could have four people in there. if you have a large event, or a major emergency comes through. Three people can answer the phone in the 9-1-1 Center now — with this extra thing we can get four people answering 9-1-1 calls, talking on the radio, providing dispatch services to whomever we need to.”

Council took no action on the request during the meeting.

Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on X @emowenjr.

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