Carroll police agencies may share radio channel, dispatch location

September 20, 2004|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Carroll County officials are exploring the possibility of consolidating emergency dispatchers and using one police channel to make the county's law enforcement agencies more efficient in sending officers and keeping track of them at a crime scene.

"I fully support the concept of consolidated police communications. I couldn't fathom fire rescue services having a mix and match," said Scott Campbell, acting administrator of the county's support services for the Office of Public Safety.

He said that his office still needs to see how feasible such a plan would be.

Campbell said the space limitations of each agency will factor into how quickly consolidation could happen. His office is looking at devising a plan to lay out the movement of personnel and come up with technical improvements that would be necessary for such a move.

He would not speculate on how long it would take to complete the project, if it is approved by county commissioners.

Four municipalities - Hampstead, Manchester, Taneytown and Sykesville - operate on the same police channel as the Maryland State Police barracks in Westminster. The Westminster Police Department operates on its own channel, as does the Carroll County Sheriff's Office.

Unless a caller dials a police agency directly, calls to 911 are routed to the county's emergency communications center. The dispatcher can then initiate a response or transfer the caller to a particular agency if requested.

Dispatchers are concentrated in a county building, the barracks, the sheriff's office and the Westminster Police Department.

Placing dispatchers in one place would streamline the flow of information, authorities said.

"This would eliminate redundancy," said Maj. Thomas Long, a spokesman for the county sheriff's office.

It also would cut down on calls between agencies, said Capt. Scott Yinger, commander of the Westminster barracks.

Putting everyone on the same channel would show all the law enforcement agencies which department could handle the call first, police officers said.

Yinger added that having one police channel would also boost officer safety by keeping all of the agencies aware of how long an officer is at a crime scene and allowing them to keep tabs on him or her if the officer has not checked in.

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