First call at new 911 Communications Center only months away

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By Juanice Gray, jgray@natchitochestimes.com

Mid-September seems to be the magic date. After approximately a decade of planning, funding and construction, the 911 Communications Center (NATCOM) is slated for completion around Sept. 13. The center is proof that when agencies work together cohesively for the greater good, things can be done-in due time. While the building will be complete, there are still several months worth of work to be done before the call center is operational. When transferring large amounts of equipment, data, computer systems and personnel, time is needed.

Staff and systems from the call centers at the sheriff’s office and police station must be transferred, set up, tested, coordinated and trained. Everything must be synchronized and all the bugs and kinks ironed out before the first call comes through. Thoroughness can’t be rushed, especially when dealing with lives.

So still, we wait, but at least now the wait time is measured in months, not years. 911 Director Willis Carter said in his report Aug. 21 that he was getting quotes on an administrative phone system that utilizes an IP system. “It would eliminate cloud storage and be more secure,” he said. He is also working with Ascension Parish Communications District to “piggy back” on their purchasing contract. This means the Natchitoches district will abide by the terms and conditions already negotiated by Ascension. “They have already done the legwork and gone through the bidding process.

Their contract is what we would be asking for and it will save us time and ensure we get the consoles we need.” Carter said the appliances and furniture for the NATCOM center were on order. The commission discussed an issue with the Netclock not synchronizing with NPD and NPSO. Carter said AT&T is actively working on the situation to eliminate the discrepancy between the recorded CAD and call times in some instances. Expenses for June included post office box rental, FedEx and UPS services, cloud storage and two fans for the current 911 location in the Arts Center. The Commission received an “unmodified opinion,” the best an agency can get, from their external auditor.

A change order for $30,667 will allow furnishing and installing the radio towers for the NATCOM center. The towers were not in the original contract. Another change order accepted debit/credit adjustments that resulted in a $9,000 credit for the Commission. Minor modifications in cabinets, lettering on the building and a permit exemption from the City resulted in the credit.