'Yes' vote could speed up 911 dispatch times in Kent County

Ballot measure to improve Kent Co. 911 center

KENT COUNTY, MICH. - A new question on the November ballot could help speed up response time from both fire and police departments in Kent County.

Next month, voters will head to the polls to vote on a number of issues both national and local. If you live in Kent County, you'll see a question regarding a "public safety dispatch surcharge."

That question refers to a proposal that would use funds to update antiquated technology at the Kent County Dispatch Center. As it stands now, dispatch uses equipment that dates back to the 1940s.

Officials say upgrades are needed, especially when big events needing a larger police response occurs.

"Right now, we are on many different radio frequencies in Kent County," explains Matt Groesser. "If you're working as a firefighter and someone needs to grab their radio and yell lookout, that information goes to a dispatcher today. That dispatcher grabs a telephone and calls another dispatch center -- that dispatcher then gets on the radio and tells the other guy to lookout.

"Obviously, that is a tremendous concern for us from a responder safety perspective."

If passed, Kent County would be able to buy communications towers and equipment that would eliminate the need for multiple radio systems.

Voters would see an increase of 70 cents per line on their landline phone bill if the measure if passed. That adds up to an extra $8.40 annually.

(© 2016 WZZM)


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