A committee studying the feasibility of a consolidated 911 dispatch effort in Nodaway County last week met with Brian Courtney, Director for the Missouri Statewide Interoperabilty Center.

Representatives from Maryville Public Safety, the Nodaway County Sheriff’s Office, MTE Office Center and Northwest Missouri Regional Council of Governments, along with Stacen Gross, principal consultant for SCG Consulting Services, met with Courtney in the City Council chambers to learn about the statewide network which consists of about 140 agencies across the state of Missouri.

Although the meeting was mostly technical in nature, the committee further confirmed its next steps toward making the joint effort a reality.

Gross has put together a feasibility study for joint communications between the three current operational dispatch centers in the county, including MPS, the sheriff’s office and the Northwest Missouri State University Police Department.

Gross noted at the meeting, that the UPD would most likely maintain its current system because so much of what it does is unique to the university campus. He did, however, mention the possibility of having a work station at UPD connected to the consolidated effort between the sheriff and MPS.

“I think we digested the bulk of that,” said Keith Wood, Director of Public Safety. “What we didn’t digest is some of the tech stuff.”

Courtney was on hand to demonstrate and explain how the statewide network operates in order to fill in the blanks with the technology needs assessment.

Virtually with the touch of a button, Courtney was in communication with his office in Jefferson City.

He explained that one of the benefits of the statewide system is the ability, that when needed, multiple agencies, different disciplines and different jurisdictions can go to a common place on the radio.

“You’re talking about instead of having four different radio systems, coming on the statewide platform,” Courtney said.

Wood made it clear he believes that if a comprehensive and consolidated 911 effort is ever going to happen, now is the time to do it.

“There are like-minded folks around the table, as well as our governing bodies, that think we’re in a position to get this done …” Wood said. “… and probably in association with the construction of our new building.”

Kim Mildward from the Regional Council was present to give her point of view from a funding standpoint and informed the group that she is prepared to pursue a Community Development Block Grant, which could be as much as $350,000.

According to Gross, the ideal system, which would make Nodaway County compatible with the statewide network, could cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $650,000.

“My feeling about the whole thing is … whatever we do, we do it right and now’s the time to do it,” Wood said.

Although the long-term plan could be to house the new hardware for the local system in the yet-to-be-constructed new public safety building, Gross insisted that the need for new technology is now and that the system could — at least temporarily — be housed in the Nodaway County Administration Center.

The consensus at the meeting seemed to be that the preferred “console,” which would tie the local system of “walkies” — each of which would cost more than $3,000 — together and communicate with the statewide network would be one specifically designed for that purpose by Motorola.

“Our recommendation is to upgrade equipment now and put it at a central location and either leave it there or move it to the new building,” Gross said. “If you guys want to look at the big picture communications-wise, we think you should, and on the console side, if you think MOSWIN (the statewide network) is in the cards for you in five to seven years, we’d recommend buying the Motorola Console and direct connect.”

By Phil Cobb | The Maryville Forum