Combining emergency operations in Ft. Bend Co.?

January 8, 2010 4:01:33 PM PST
It's potentially big news for two local communities, where city leaders are considering combining certain emergency operations. And it could mean a faster response to your emergency at a time when every second counts. The idea is to combine police and fire dispatch centers for Missouri City and Sugar Land.

Right now, if you have an emergency and call for help in Sugar Land or Missouri City, the call goes into each city's dispatch center.

"Certainly those do not know city limit boundaries," said Sugar Land Mayor James Thompson.

Mayor Thompson says the two cities though are looking at combining their dispatch centers in the hope of achieving long-term economies of scale in staffing and administration.

But the mayor is adamant that doing so must not compromise response time for police or fire.

"We will make sure we deliver the highest quality of service that we can," said Thompson.

The head of Sugar Land's dispatch center says a coordinated effort could actually reduce response time.

"Right now, in 2010, your computers don't talk to their computers?" we asked Sugar Land Dispatch Manager Shannon Price.

"No," she responded.

Price says having all dispatchers under one roof, or at least on the same computer system, would eliminate the current need of dispatchers to pick of the phone and call each other when a call crosses jurisdictions.

"It could save valuable minutes," said Price.

Some of those we spoke to are hesitant to support a dispatch consolidation.

"The way Missouri City is growing, they probably need their own," said Missouri City resident Mike McNeely.

How much consolidation would cost is still anyone's guess, fair to say it could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Missouri City's police chief eagerly awaits result of the study.

"If a second or a minute means the difference in our officers saying a life, it's a step in the right direction," said Missouri Police Chief Chief Joel Fitzgerald.

Under this plan, each police and fire department would keep their staffing levels.