Mar 052014

By Naomi Hatch
Snowflake Town Manager Paul Watson gave a brief update regarding a regional dispatch service during a joint meeting of the Snowflake and Taylor town councils held Feb. 25.
He advised those attending that in 2009, officials of the Summit Health Care emergency department expressed concern regarding the lack of communication between emergency service agencies within Navajo County.
In 2011, a study was commissioned, and a consultant evaluated problems and suggested possible solutions.
“That really was the start of the discussion about a regional dispatch center,” said Watson. “Those discussions have continued since.”
He reported that a consultant was hired to look at the best way to implement a regional dispatch center. They discussed the possibility of building a new facility, as well as looked at existing facilities and locations.
“In 2013 they homed in on the concept of a two-dispatch center operation that would really function as one,” Watson said. “Technology is such that they could have two dispatch centers at separate locations, but all communication could be cross wired to make it operate as one center.” The centers would be located in Show Low and Holbrook.
Snowflake-Taylor Police Chief Jerry VanWinkle had some concerns with the proposal, as did other police chiefs, so they went to Prescott to see first-hand a center that serves several operations.
Watson reported that for the most part everybody is in agreement, feeling anything that can be done to improve public safety is good, but noted, “There are issues we need to resolve.”
Participants in the regional dispatch center would be Snowflake-Taylor, Pinetop, Lakeside, Show Low, Holbrook, Heber and Overgaard police, fire and emergency services. Winslow recently upgraded its center and will not participate, and the White Mountain Apache Tribe does not want to participate.
“Some of the questions out there are significant enough it’s not a done deal,” said Watson.