High Costs Delay Move To New Center - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

03/22/04 - Tyler

High Costs Delay Move To New Center

Late pages, bad directions and an overall delay in emergency dispatching. Just some of the concerns coming from emergency officials over Smith County's new 911 Communication Center.

Tyler was supposed to join the center back in October, but has not done so. The City of Tyler operates it's own call center, located presently at police headquarters. Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle said it was not until a few years ago, city officials thought of doing it any other way.

"We've always had an outstanding communications center down here and actually we've stayed ahead of the curve, but in the efforts to save money and in the effort to provide better service to the citizens of Tyler that was why we began talks with the 911 Center."

Tyler and all other cities located in Smith County agreed at the time to consolidate, forming the new Smith County 911 Communications District. That consolidation happened in October 2003, but without Tyler. Swindle said one big issue kept it from happening.

"We have been visiting, discussing and all this through several paths but the bottom line on our part is the cost."

The cost increase would be significant. Tyler spent $961,000 dollars in 2003 to support its own center. Preliminary estimates show it would cost $1.16 million to move to the new facility. That works out to an increase of $199,000 dollars. Chief Swindle said the costs are high but are only part of the decision.

"We have to balance all that and if everything was right and it was for the betterment of the citizens of Tyler and we could be assured that our calls would be answered quickly and the officers would be dispatched appropriately then absolutely, that's what it's all about."

For now, the call center is being handled by the city without a move in sight.

The new communications center is run by the Smith County 911 Communications District. The district is separate from the city and county. Chief Swindle said Tyler could continue to operate it's own center comfortably for another 10 years.

Chris Gibson, reporting

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