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Tillman County 911 center now up to state standards

Tillman County_The Tillman County 911 dispatch center is now up to state standards.  It had to move to get there, but not too far.  On Friday dispatchers moved out of a small room outside of the jail to the middle of the jail.  Not only is that area larger, it's safer, too. 

The old site was outside of the current jail facility, and officials feared it left dispatchers open to anyone who wanted to disrupt the 911 system.  Dispatcher Paula Doze says she's happy with her new ‘digs.'  "Here we're behind a lot of locked doors, and bullet-proof glass, and solid steel doors," she said.  She says it's a lot better than the old location.  "There were no windows - we couldn't see out unless we got up from the position we were sitting in."

Tillman County Sheriff Bobby Whittington took 7News on a tour of the old room - it was dark and cramped.  Whittington says there were many factors that made the move necessary.  "We weren't meeting the State Jail Standards," he said.  State Jail Standards states we have to have three jailers on duty, or two jailers and a dispatcher."  He says safety was another factor - for both dispatchers and officers. 

In the old building dispatchers, such as Paula, couldn't see whether anyone was outside.  If a person outside picked up a phone, needed help, and Paula called for an officer, she would not be able to describe that person to an officer.  She says it's nice to see more than just other dispatchers, now.  "Just a little more human contact," she said.  "When we were in the other building, the only other person we saw was other dispatchers or law enforcement that came in."  Paula says the move has helped radio communications, too.  "All the comments from other towns, like Grandfield, say they pick us up better - especially on the handhelds," she said. 

Whittington says he has been investigating such a move for the 911 center since he was appointed sheriff in 2005.  Already there are plans for the old dispatch center area.  "An interview room," he said.  "Kind of out-of-sight out-of-mind of things where we can take people confidential informants, and talk to them, without fear of being seen by an inmate."

Whittington says five separate companies helped to coordinate the move which cost about $8,000.

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