Central dispatch for Prentiss and county closer to reality

Published 5:51 am Wednesday, October 18, 2023

The Jefferson Davis County Board of Supervisors met Monday morning at the board room in Prentiss. Board Attorney Wes Daughdrill opened with prayer before the agenda was approved.

Law enforcement officials, municipal leaders and AAA employees packed the room for the first item on the agenda.

Prentiss officials have been working on the possibility of a central dispatch to be located at the new jail.

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All 911 calls in Jefferson Davis County go to the dispatch at the JDC Sheriff’s Department. If a call comes in to 911 that is for an emergency in the city limits or for a fire in the county, the 911 dispatcher must then make a second call to appropriate responders. Alternatively, the Prentiss Police dispatcher could receive an emergency call for the county and must do the same.

A central dispatch would alleviate extra steps and put all responders on one call and one system. All fire departments would be on a one-button page out instead of a dispatcher taking the time to figure out where the fire is and to what department should be contacted.

The 911 dispatcher also runs tags and licenses for the Prentiss Police Department currently.

“This could save precious time in an emergency and will be a smoother operation all the way around,” said Davis. According to Davis, this move should also lower county fire ratings which could possibly lead to a decrease in homeowner insurance.

The Prentiss Police Department will be responsible for purchasing any new equipment if necessary.

The current numbers that are used for the Town of Prentiss emergency dispatch, 601-792-5198 and 601-792-5199, will still be in use and will roll over automatically to the central 911.

“This will be easier and more effective for everyone,” said Prentiss Police Chief Richard Browning.

The county already had it in the budget for two dispatchers to be on duty at the new jail, so no additinoal hiring will be necessary with the change. The county now has one dispatcher each shift.

All hiring and firing of dispatchers will go through the sheriff.

“A central dispatch is a positive move in my opinion,” said JDC Emergency Management Director Jocelyn Ragsdale, who feels communication is a horrible problem in the county. “Some of it is equipment, some of it is that the dispatchers need more training. In order to move forward with this the dispatchers will need adequate equipment and training.”

One of the AAA representatives present stated improved mapping software was going to be available soon.

“That will be a huge help for them to get a more precise location when a call comes in,” said JDC County Engineer Les Dungan.

According to AAA when a cell phone call comes into 911, the location pings every few seconds and within a few minutes the dispatcher will have a location within 25 feet of the call. No formal action was taken, but a future meeting was suggested to work out logistics.

The board extended the countywide burn ban until the Nov. 6 meeting.

Maria Durr with the Department of Human Services requested to contract a clerk for her office to work 24 hours a week. DHS and the county would split the cost of the clerk.

County CPA Cathy Slocum requested an amendment to budget and transfer of funds from the general fund to solid waste for operations and the purchase of new garbage truck.

In other business, the board approved the following without opposition:

• Approved minutes

• Approved change orders for county wide patching and leveling on Hunnicut Road and Houston Road.

• Approved Board President signing letter in support of Prentiss Institute Grant Application

• Approved Board President signing Pay Application #16

• Approved Board President signing MDEQ Agreement #SW1325 (unauthorized dump clean up)

• Approved bush hogging the industrial park Daniel Sinclair for $1,000.

• Approved employee action form – District 5

• Approve payment of invoices:

a. SiteGround – $21.99

b. Dungan Engineering (countywide patching – construction phase)

District 4 – $3,200

c. Dungan Engineering (countywide patching construction phase)

District 1 $281.14

District 4 $1,318.86

d. Dungan Engineering (EWP Sykes Rd & Sutherland Drive) District 3 $3,008.00

District 5 $3,392.00

e. Diversified Construction (EWP project) District 3 $28,813.61

District 5 $32,611.55

f. AAA Constructing & Construction District 1 $3,312.41

District 4 $15,538.91

• Approved payment of invoices without a purchase order to Otis $2,027.25 for jail elevator repair,  Southern Measurement $1,732.23 for service to generators and Greenline Products  $2,394.00 for District 3.

• Approved credit card report and payment of the same.

• Approved request for FY23 budgeted amounts District Attorney for $29,690.00.

• Approved claims.