Still no solid solution to save East Feliciana Parish 911 calls

POSTED: Friday, October 26, 2012 - 6:30pm

UPDATED: Monday, October 29, 2012 - 8:58am

The East Feliciana 911 center fields just under 2,500 calls a year, but thanks to dwindling budgets Sheriff Talmadge Bunch has said, come November 19, 2012 his office can't afford to help pay for a large portion of those call takers.

"It’s approximately $38,000 short, so the sheriff has been baring that cost all along. And it's just gotten to the point with tight budgets where the sheriff can not afford to do that anymore," said Craig Frosch, attorney for the sheriff’s office.

"We have told them time and time again that we're giving them as much money as we possibly can, and that's basically it," Bill Ford, Chairman of the Emergency Communications Commission said.

The emergency communications commission met Friday, on the agenda was a response to the Sheriff, and a need to figure out just how they're going to keep the 911 calls answered.

"The best scenario would be to continue on as we are right now. And ultimately give us time to set up here, so that we can do the call taking here and hopefully, eventually dispatching can come out of this office," Ford explained, referencing the newly built Emergency Operations building in the parish. Ford said it would take several months to get the building ready.

Though the two sides can't seem to find common ground on who is going to pay for the incoming 911 calls to be taken, there is one thing they can agree on. Come November 19, 911 calls will still be answered one way or another.

"The reality of the situation is the sheriff is not going to allow the citizens of this parish to be without protection, to be without emergency services," Frosch assured citizens.

"We have some options that are available to us to guarantee the residents of the parish will always have 911 available to them. So that's never going to happen, where they call 911 and not have somebody answer," Ford added.

While the commission is exploring options for call taking, neither the sheriff nor the 911 commission has offered up the missing funding.
 

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Well it good to see the sheriff changed his original position on this issue. Originally, according to the Advocate, he said he was going to stop answering 911 phone calls if he didn't receive additional funding. Now, through his attorney, he is saying he will always answer 911 phone calls. I wonder what changed his mind?

What no one has completely reported is that the Governing Body of the Parish has for years been resposible for all functions of operating the 911 system. Years ago, all 911 operations were seperated from the Sheriff;s resposibilities. The residents of East Feliciana pay a special millage as well as a surcharge on their phones to operate this system. The Sheriff trecieves NO money from this and has supplemented the actual cost out of his own budget.

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