SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

October 15, 2013

Dispatching issue exposes growing pains at RECC

(Continued)

When asked if Middleton was pulling out of the center altogether, DiGianvittorio said: “Not true.”

DiGianvittorio said the police department is also waiting for the installation of a camera and radio system in the lobby of the station along Route 114, a system that would allow someone who comes in the lobby off-hours to speak directly with a dispatcher at the regional communications center.

The regional center still lacks a permanent communications tower, which would be built across the driveway from the building. A temporary tower has been put up.

“It serves our purposes fine,” Pratt said.

Today, all 911 cellphone calls in Essex County, 30 cities and towns in Middlesex County, and a community in Suffolk County will be routed to the center as it takes calls away from an overburdened State Police communications center in Framingham.

More than 70 percent of all 911 calls made nowadays come from cellphones, said Singer and Topsfield fire Chief Ron Giovannacci, who has been pushing for the creation of the regional dispatch center for years. Topsfield is still in the process of moving over its dispatch to the center.

“This is not an overnight thing, It’s a planned deliberative move,” Giovannacci said.

Politically, there are still those who are questioning the need for the regional dispatch center. In Topsfield, a selectmen’s meeting is scheduled for tonight in which police, fire and communications center personnel will speak on the issue, Pratt said. Selectmen have received a letter from a resident asking the town to pull out of the center, and there is a petition circulating around town, Giovannacci said.

Giovannacci said Topsfield Town Meeting has voted for the center, and the town has committed to it financially for the next five years.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.

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