Service to be centralized

Ofelia Garcia Hunter, Jim Wells County Correspndent

Jim Wells, Duval and Brooks counties are centralizing their 9-1-1 communications system to better serve their residents.

The new system, Second Generation 9-1-1, which includes tower computers and telephone lines, will be located at the Alice Police Department's dispatch center.

Dispatchers will now monitor all of the calls through computer screens instead of a telephone switchboard.

"It brings direct communication between each," said Trey Pattillo, with the Coastal Bend Council of Governments (COG) who oversees the operations of 9-1-1. "Corpus Christi has had (the system) for two years and it can detect what parking space an individual is calling from when they are inside their car."

Pattillo said for the three county residents, that type of technology is in the near future, but for now the upgrade will give dispatchers from each of the areas locations on maps and other valuable information right on their screen. He also said residents calling from a cell phone will need to know their location.

"We are in the process of having the longitude and latitude for wireless phones…but right now cell phone 9-1-1 callers need to know their location," he said. "If you are calling from a cell phone, know your location because we don't."

Pattillo said the new enhanced 9-1-1 system was provided by the COG for $500,000.

He said the system allows for the three counties and the City of Alice to work together and more effectively communicate with each other.

San Patricio recently had the same system installed at the beginning of the year. He said Alice was chosen as the centralized location because if a hurricane hits, it's in an area that won't get the brunt of bad weather conditions.

Pattillo said this system is the first phase of more to come.

"In the future there will be dash cameras on the (patrol) vehicles and dispatchers will be able to see the officer," he said. "That's in the future and this is the direction the state wants everybody to go."