A study might be coming for 911 Public Safety Answering Points in Crawford County.
The Crawford County Intergovernmental Council heard from Tina Thompson, 911 and Geographic Information Systems administrator with the Western Arkansas Planning and Development District during its meeting in Mountainburg on July 17. Thompson talked about Arkansas Act 660, which is to establish the Public Safety Act of 2019, amend the Arkansas Public Safety Communications Act of 1985 and develop a next generation 911 system. Arkansas Act 660 was approved during this year’s Arkansas legislative session.
Thompson said Crawford County Judge Dennis Gilstrap contacted her earlier in the month after he had seen a presentation from Saline County. Saline County contracted with the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials to conduct a study regarding its dispatch centers, as well as to see if consolidation is the way to go.
“I have contacted APCO, and they sent me some information on their services,” Thompson said. “… They know a lot about the Arkansas law and they’re staying on top of what that’s going to mean to the counties. They are independent. They’re not on our side, or the state’s side or anybody else’s side, so they’ll be able to come in and determine if we need our three dispatch centers, or if it’s better to consolidate those three into one.”
Thompson said APCO told her there are many different options. In addition, consolidation does not necessarily mean all the dispatchers are in the same building, which was good news because that is about what Crawford County currently has anyway.
“… We have one system, and three different dispatch centers, but that one system, in our mind, is consolidation,” Thompson said. “All the calls come through that; it goes out to the individual dispatchers.”
Gilstrap said the main router where the 911 calls come in is currently in the Van Buren Police Department. That equipment transfers the calls to the Van Buren Police Department, the Alma Police Department or the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office dispatchers. Gilstrap hopes Crawford County will be able to get an independent study from APCO.
Thompson said Act 660 will take effect this month.
The council also heard from Crawford County Emergency Management Director Brad Thomas, who was appointed to the Arkansas Levee Task Force earlier this month. Thomas said the task force had its first meeting July 12.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson gave the group four objectives, Thomas said, including studying and analyzing the current conditions of the levees in the state; identifying sources and requirements for funding the construction, repair and maintenance of the levees; reviewing the adequacy of current laws and organizational structure of the levee system and levee district boards; and studying prospective monitoring and reporting systems for the maintenance of the levees. A report from the task force is due by the end of December.
The next Crawford County Intergovernmental Council meeting is Oct. 16 in Chester.