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RPD wants no part of new, standardized dispatch procedure

Jan 27, 2014 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Officials at the Riverton Police Department say they aren't interested in using the new, nationally standardized dispatch program recently purchased by the Fremont County Sheriff's Office Communications Center.

"Absolutely not," RPD Capt. Eric Murphy said. "It would bog down our system. I'm not for it at all."

The $44,000 Medical, Fire and Police Priority Dispatch System was designed to provide a uniform response to local emergencies. It prompts dispatchers to ask a series of questions specifically tailored to fit each unique situation.

According to the county's public safety communications director, each phone call with a county dispatcher now begins with, "911, what is the address of the emergency?"

Next, dispatchers request the reporting party's phone number and name before asking about the nature of the incident at hand. They follow the computerized prompts throughout the entire conversation.

Scripted questions

Murphy said the standardized script wouldn't work for the RPD.

"It's not user friendly," he said. "It really takes the humanistic part out of it."

RPD administrative supervisor Jan Fresorger said Riverton's dispatchers learn to "think on their feet" during a four-month training program required for new recruits.

"I don't want them being used to asking a series of questions popped up on the computer," she said. "It kind of takes the initiative out of the dispatcher and puts it onto a computer."

Sometimes, she said, people will call the dispatch center, request an officer at a certain location, and simply hang up the phone. Others quickly rattle off random bits of information that may not conform to the standardized series of questions now in use at the county dispatch center.

"I think it works for the sheriff's office," Fresorger said. "They're pretty excited about it, and that's wonderful. (But) at this time, we're not interested."

She pointed out that the RPD dispatch center is much smaller than the county's, with only one employee usually answering law enforcement calls for the city compared to at least three staff members at the county level.

Time element

The RPD's lone dispatcher may not have time to complete an entire series of questions with each caller, Fresorger said.

The city department takes an average of 20-30 law enforcement calls per day. Fresorger said the county's dispatch staff is larger because that agency answers more calls and serves many agencies besides the sheriff's office, including county ambulance, Lander fire and numerous others.

The county also will take overflow calls that the RPD may not have time to answer.

"That's where it comes in handy to have a dual center like the Sheriff's office," she said.

Murphy thinks the new system would be a hindrance for officers, who rely on dispatchers to relay critical information in a timely manner.

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Riverton Police Department