James City considers moving 911 call center to York

jojacobs@vagazette.com

James City County has hired a consultant to explore outsourcing its 911 call center to York’s center, a move intended to improve emergency response service in the Historic Triangle.

“It seems to me the idea of combining emergency communication centers will have savings all around,” James City Interim County Administrator Bill Porter said, adding it could also improve services for citizens.

The county hired a consultant for $38,600 to conduct a feasibility study on the idea, namely whether such a move would improve service and what, if any, costs and cost-savings there may be, Porter said.

The study is expected to kick off in earnest next week and could take a couple of months. Staff hope to present the James City Board of Supervisors with a resolution in which supervisors will either approve or deny the move before July.

Consolidation would result in improved service thanks to faster communications and increased staffing. Mutual-aid requests could be handled within a single facility rather than with a call to another jurisdiction, said Terry Hall, director of the York-Poquoson-Williamsburg Regional 911 Emergency Communications Center.

“We don’t recognize political boundaries,” Hall said “We send the closest unit to you.”

The emergency communication system already serves Williamsburg and Poquoson. The former came aboard in 2009, while the latter has been a partner for more than a decade. Dispatchers from those two centers were hired at York’s center, Hall said.

“When those (localities) came over, we hired their dispatchers,” Hall said.

Should the proposal get the green light, York’s emergency communications would want to hire James City dispatchers. The York center currently has 49 full-time personnel, Hall said.

James City currently shares the York-James City-Gloucester Regional Radio System with York and Gloucester, and has done so for 14 years, said Hall, who also manages the radio system.

Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.

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