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Jefferson City police looking to hire consulting firm to assess communication center


The Jefferson City Police Department, along with Cole County EMS, is wanting to hire a consulting firm to look at its current 911 communications operation.

Currently, Jefferson City Police and EMS have two separate 911 call center locations. When a medical call comes in to police, it gets transferred to EMS. Police Chief Eric Wilde said the assessment would help determine if the current operation is feasible or if a joint communication building would be better for the community.

A new system to streamline the process was implemented in February and over the summer, response times were reported to be better than the national average in Cole County.

"We want to see what it looks like over the next 20 years because this is going to support follow-up discussions about whether we should build a facility here in Cole County that is specifically 911 operations in that facility," Wilde said.

EMS Chief Eric Hoy said the agencies know they need to expand, but the question is by how much.

"As we move forward and look at the future of public safety, we want to identify whether or not a joint communication center or continuing in our current operations is what's most feasible," Hoy said. "And really, the easiest way to do that and the foundation to that is really finding out how many people we would need."

He said in the past four or five years, call volume has increased from 8,700 calls a year to 12,500 calls a year.

"What we feel is adequate staffing today, we don't know if it truly is," Hoy said. "And we certainly don't know what staffing levels will need to be 20 years form now."

Currently, Jefferson City Police have four communications vacancies out of 20 total positions. Hoy said EMS is fully staffed.

Wilde said the future of the 911 communication center has been an ongoing discussion, and instead of guessing about the right size, emergency services want to contract a firm. He said it is now up to the Cole County Commission to approve.

Hiring a firm would cost around $50,000-$60,000 and would be paid for by Cole County's 911 Surcharge tax.

Cole County Commissioner Jeff Hoelscher said he is interested in a potential joint communication center, saying every second counts in an emergency situation.

"Speaking for myself, yes, I am definitely interested in it and I think that our other emergency services are interested in it," Hoelscher said. "But, we want to make sure that if we do this, we do it right."

Along with future staffing, the assessment would also do things like review policies and procedures and look at what technology is being used.

Wilde said as soon as the commission approves, it will get underway. He said it's a short process, estimated to last about 90-120 days.

Article Topic Follows: Jefferson City

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Morgan Buresh

Morgan is an evening anchor and reporter who came to ABC 17 News in April 2023.


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