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Thursday, May 26, 2016

Monett 911 calls are on the rise

Friday, April 2, 2010

A dramatic increase in 911 calls were recorded at the Monett Police Department's dispatch center in 2009. A summary of the year's activities involving the Monett 911 Communications Center was recently presented to the city's 911 Advisory Board.

Dispatching Supervisor Bonnie Witt-Schulte reported dispatchers received 4,059 calls on 911 lines last year, a 58 percent increase over 2008 and almost double the number of calls received in the first two years of operations. Half the calls were requests for help from police and 22 percent were calls for the Barry-Lawrence Ambulance District, which is also seeing record activity.

Thanks to increased tracking potential, Witt-Schulte was able to determine the number of misdials and errors also doubled. Hangups represented 783 calls or 19 percent of the total and misdials totals 268 calls or 7 percent.

The Monett center also consistently receives 911 calls that are forwarded on to county centers for response in rural areas. During 2009, 15 calls came in for Lawrence County and 11 for Barry County. Witt-Schulte reported Monett has a direct line for Barry County that has aided in having a smooth transition for rural Monett residents whose calls used to come to the city.

"The [Monett 911] board appreciates what's going on," Witt-Schulte said. "At the next quarterly meeting, the board plans to ask the Barry County board members from Monett up to see what we're doing. If the service ever goes to them, it will be a substantial increase in the number of calls they receive.

"In our discussion of the situation with Barry County," Witt Schulte continued, "it was noted that recently the call involving the child who had fallen in the pond [on Jan. 30] was an excellent example of how our centers can work well together. We were able to have all entities on the call----our center was dispatching emergency personnel and relaying information, and the Barry County Center was able to provide emergency medical dispatch information."

Witt-Schulte credited her staff with the smoothness of Monett's operation.

"Our dispatchers have been here a long time," Witt-Schulte said. "We have very little turnover. They've grown with the technology and utilize it for our benefit. We're seeing better statistics and a decreased response time, thanks to learning how to use the radio better."

The center has nine employees, six of whom are full-time communications officers. A training officer, reserve officer and communications supervisor fill out the staff.

In addition to answering calls for Monett, Pierce City, Freistatt and the Barry-Lawrence Ambulance District, staff members provide access to state law enforcement records for police in Monett and Pierce City, the Monett Municipal Court, the Barry County Prosecutor and the 39th Circuit Juvenile Office. Information on stolen property, including vehicles and guns, as well as missing persons are entered into the system. Arrest warrants from Municipal Court are also entered.

Staff answer three 911 lines, monitor 11 radio channels, maintain a radio log, monitor weather events and maintain a log tracking police, fire, and ambulance activity. Staff also provide after-hours reconnect services for utilities, including collection of past-due electric bills, monitoring street conditions in weather situations and activated a phone tree notification system with alerts about severe weather and flooding.

The center handled a total of 23,239 calls in 2009, an increase of 634 or nearly 3 percent from the previous year. Calls on the 911 system represented 18 percent of the total. Monett police calls made up 53 percent of the total with 11 percent of calls relating to ambulance service. Total operating expenses for 2009 were $89,510. Income included $60,000 from the city's general fund plus $10,800 in fees from Pierce City and the Barry-Lawrence Ambulance District. Nearly $26,600 in fees for 911 service come from 1,430 lines in Lawrence County. In 2008 the city collected a phone surcharge for 911 services from nearly 3,300 additional lines.

Costs for running the center include $51,100 for labor and $38,410 in operating costs. AT&T billed the city nearly $17,146 for 911 services and equipment maintenance.

At the 911 Advisory Board's last meeting, board members presented certificates of appreciation to all of the dispatching staff in honor of National Telecommunicator Week. Staff were recognized for "constant devotion to public safety dispatching, consistent excellence in customer service, and the continued pursuit of our goal of protecting life and property, while maintaining the highest level of professionalism."

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