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Local News

June 22, 2013

Essex, Wenham first to switch to regional dispatch

MIDDLETON — Essex will be the first town to switch over to the new regional 911 center on the Middleton Jail campus next week — and Wenham will be right behind.

Essex will start using the new dispatch center on Monday and Wenham on Wednesday, according to the Essex County Sheriff’s office.

Essex police Chief Peter Silva said there has been much behind-the-scenes planning to prepare for the switch. “We are expecting a very smooth transition,” he said.

Wenham Town Administrator Mark Andrews said the transition includes installing new antenna equipment, upgrading phone systems and providing training on new equipment.

“This is the culmination of a number of years of public safety planning for new technology and service to the public,” Andrews said. The center will provide the town with more modern technology in dispatching emergency crews, he said.

“There shouldn’t be any dramatic changes,” said Wenham police Chief Thomas Perkins, noting that Wenham has already been sharing a dispatch services with Hamilton. “The phone numbers will all remain the same.”

Wenham has already changed the programming of its radios in the station and in cruisers. Police station operations and hours will remain the same.

Maurice Pratt, assistant superintendent for the Essex County Sheriff’s Department, said work was being done this week to tie in all the different phone systems, computers and radio systems.

“This has been a collaboration of a lot of people, and we are confident we will be ready for Monday,” he said. “This is a step in creating a unified public safety network for Essex County. It is going to be a better service for the public, and emergency services will be able to better share information.”

After years of planning, the Essex County Regional Emergency Communications Center broke ground in October. State grants paid for its construction, technology and communications equipment.

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