YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Mahoning County’s 911 Center soon will be under new management.
On Tuesday morning, Mahoning County Commissioners agreed to transfer authority of the center from their control to Sheriff Jerry Greene as of Sunday. The 911 Center was created 10 years ago.
“Who better to oversee a dispatch center than the people they dispatch,” Mahoning County Commissioner David Ditzler said.
One of the first changes will be to ensure the center has a supervisor on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Currently, supervisors are only available during regular weekday business hours.
“That is one of the things the commissioners came to us with. There’s a little bit of a lack of supervision in that room, especially on the back turns and on weekends. And one of the things the sheriff’s office obviously can provide is more supervision, more stability to the room,” Greene said.
But Greene told commissioners his goal is to eventually expand service to cover more of the county.
“I believe it is our duty to look outside and try and aggressively look and move toward regionalization of that dispatch room, whether it be with other police agencies or fire,” Greene said.
Although the transfer had been discussed for more than a year, workers became worried recently they would lose their jobs, especially since they have been working under a contract extension since October. But the sheriff and commissioners both stressed none of the existing dispatchers in the center will lose their job as part of the changeover.
“If it made sense to cut jobs, sure. But we need them,” Greene said.
“At least I feel somewhat secure about it,” dispatcher Petra Walsh said.
Walsh has been working for the county for 16 years. She said she would like to see the local fire departments use the 911 center. Right now, fire and medical calls have to be transferred to other answering points, costing valuable time.
“Process of elimination, only one person should have that and we should just be able to get them out there. I mean, seconds is a matter of importance here,” Walsh said.
However, Greene said dispatchers handling ambulance calls require specialized training.
“Ours are not trained in that right now. And we are going to look at how much that is going to cost to get them trained in that format,” Greene said.
Trumbull County’s 911 system is run by the county commissioners, but there is a supervisor on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to a supervisor there. The director is Trumbull County Sheriff Chief Deputy Ernie Cook.
Trumbull County 911 dispatches police, fire and ambulance service. Dispatchers handle calls for all communities except Warren, Lordstown (which also dispatches for Warren Township), Girard and Niles.