Punxsutawney Approves Ending 911 Call Center

PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (EYT) — The last borough police dispatch center in Jefferson County could be closed as soon as the end of the year.

At a recent special meeting, Punxsutawney Borough Council voted to close its Police Department Call Center.

They are the last to maintain one.

Saving money is the most prominent reason for the decision.

According to borough manager Ben White, two full-time and four part-time dispatchers are employed by the borough. He said between salaries and benefits, the borough will save about $100,000.00.

“It has been talked about for awhile,” White said. “And, the county provides the same services.”

The county said it will have to add anywhere from three to five full-time dispatchers to take on the increased workload involving Punxsutawney calls.

“They want it done by December 31, but we’re not setting a date yet,” county Commissioner Jeff Pisarcik said. “We need to make sure we have enough employees hired and trained before we begin taking their calls.”

“The health and safety of the county’s residents are more important than having it done by a set date.”

In Jefferson County, dispatchers undergo about 800 hours of training before they can work independently.

Pisarcik added that the county is able to budget for the new employees it must hire in 2018.

He said a lot of the money to pay for dispatchers comes from the 911 wireless fund that was enacted in 2015, but if there isn’t enough there, the money will come from the general fund.

County 911 Supervisor Chris Clark said the dispatch center, which is located near Brookville, already handles all the 911 calls, and it would be dispatching police instead of going through Punxsy.

“We’re not worried about it; we’ll be prepared,” Clark said.

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