Fire/EMS Joint Dispatch

The Leon County Commission agreed with the consultant group PTI that a single, independent dispatch center is needed in Leon County.

The group says valuable seconds are being lost with the way fire and EMS are currently being dispatched. The problem is fire is dispatched at the Tallahassee Police Department and EMS at the Leon County Sheriff's Office.

Commissioner Ed Depuy, who was appointed by the commission to work with the city on this issue, put forward a few additions for his fellow commissioners to consider Tuesday night.

He laid out a blueprint on how a joint dispatch center would work, but he's added law enforcement dispatch and emergency operations dispatch to the proposal. The board unanimously agreed.

Ed Depuy said, "If the city embraces it, we'll go about appointing a six member board that will find the person to direct the Public Safety Communication Center."

Depuy said he'd like to see a new public safety communications director in place by the start of hurricane season. Once that happens, he added, they can start talking location. But the city must first agree with the county's proposal.

Leon County Sheriff Larry Campbell told commissioners a unified joint dispatch center is a step in the right direction, but he doesn't want them to stop there when it comes to public safety issues. He asked the commission to stay the course on the law enforcement merger issue.

"I think that when it comes down to the bottom line, we don't want to remove the question of consolidation of all the agencies. This is just a band-aid, a first step really, in the overall way the systems should be put together in the interest of the citizens’ safety."

However, Tallahassee Police Chief Walt McNeil says it's possible the issue of law enforcement consolidation may be one that goes away if dispatch issues are addressed.

"I'm very optimistic, I'm pleased with what I've heard here, but it's been said before, the devil's in the details, how this all flushes out, but this is a move in the right direction."

When asked about the county's changes, the consultant group president said was an important one and he's seen several other communities do it.

Costis Toregas, PTI President Emeritus, said, "The guiding principles of shaving time off, the response of creating unified command, of creating a place where technology can be instituted to do a better job, more cost effective job are all pluses, so that's why I have no problems with the recommendation as it's changed."