911 upgrades planned in October

Police lights by night

By BLAKE SPURNEY Special to Newton Now

Harvey County residents soon will be able to text dispatchers in case of an emergency.

Communications Director Don Gruver told the Board of Harvey County Commissioners about the scheduled upgrades to the 911 system. The Next Generation 911 system will make use of better mapping, which will make it much easier for dispatchers to locate callers. It also will give callers a better chance of reaching the correct dispatch center.

Gruver said Harvey County dispatchers currently had to reroute several calls a day to another center. Local dispatchers fielded 38,000 calls last year, or a little more than 100 a day. Sixty-nine percent of 911 calls were made via wireless phones.

Gruver said the $93,000 annual expense for operating the new system would be funded by the 911 tax. Mobile phone users pay a 60-cent fee per month. Harvey County dispatchers will undergo training on the new system in October, and it should be operational in early November, he said.

Gruver said other jurisdictions reported receiving few text messages. Callers are advised to not use abbreviations when sending an emergency text. Photos and emoji will not come through in a text.

Reno County, which has been using the new system since 2015, has several documented cases of dispatchers being able to locate mobile-phone callers, he added.

Commissioners approved entering a memorandum of agreement with the Kansas 9-1-1 Coordinating Council. Harvey County will be responsible for any repairs and maintenance on the new system.

Commissioners had little other business during the short meeting.

“We pert near set a record,” Commission Chairman Ron Krehbiel remarked.

Sheriff Chad Gay told commissioners about arresting a trespasser on a neighbor’s porch near 24th and Hoover.

“I chased him, and he got away,” Gay said.

“Did you have britches on or were you in shorts?” Krehbiel asked.

“I had my britches on already,” Gay replied.

Authorities later located and arrested the suspect, who had outstanding warrants from the Kansas Department of Corrections.

In other business, commissioners:

  • Approved a resolution to re-enroll as a member of the South Central Kansas Economic Development District. The participation fee is $5,896.28.
  • Approved a resolution to vacate streets and an alley in the former town in Patterson.
  • Approved paying weekly bills $150,191.15.
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