Media Archive

County to fight new E-9-1-1 plan

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 166, No. 40, October 06, 2004

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

DOVER-FOXCROFT County officials will fight a proposal to route Piscataquis County's emergency 9-1-1 calls to a call center in Orono, before they're sent to the county for dispatching.

"It'll just add another cog to the wheel," noted Sgt. Dave Roberts, telecommunications supervisor for the county.

"We'll fight it," he continued.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission is working with the Maine Department of Public Safety to study the reduction of PSAPs (Public Safety Answering Points) in the state. A result of that may be an additional call center in Orono to answer calls from Piscataquis, Hancock and Washington counties. These emergency calls would be then forwarded to local dispatch centers, including that operated by the Piscataquis County Sheriff's Department.

"The state bureaucracy likes to build itself," said Piscataquis County Sheriff John Goggin, commenting that the additional call center will not save Maine residents money.

Roberts and Goggin explained that the sheriff's office would still need to maintain staffing at the same level, because all emergency calls would eventually end up in the county call center. There would be a need for personnel to staff the additional call center in Orono, however, both pointed out.

Roberts said that the statistics that the Maine Public Utilities Commission and Maine Department of Public Safety have on Piscataquis County's call volume is inaccurate. While approximately 3,800 calls annually come to the county on the E-9-1-1 line, thousands more are dialed in via the business line. As of last week, the county dispatch had taken 7,469 complaints.

"They're not getting a true picture," said Roberts.

Per capita, Piscataquis County has a siginificant number of complaints, he added.

Roberts said the county would lose the computer that shows callers' phone numbers, locations and names. All that would be linked via another cornputer server, routed from Orono.

He said the state may use the statistics from the new call center to justify a need for more state troopers.

"We see this as another move on the part of the state to justify its own existence," said Sheriff Goggin.

Goggin said he continues to wonder about the surcharge that every telephone subscriber now pays on a monthly basis, which was to go toward the E-9-1-1 system in the state. He said Piscataquis County had received equipment early in the program, but hasn't seen a penny since. "That surcharge was two cents and now it's 50 cents," he said.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.