Gov. Dunleavy creates working group for trooper dispatch consolidation plan

Published: Jun. 3, 2020 at 5:34 PM AKDT
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A plan to bring a centralized 911 call center to Palmer is being met with some opposition. The plan was to consolidate call centers from Southcentral, Southeast, and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough into one centralized trooper dispatch center.

Department of Public Safety officials have said the project is meant to provide more reliable 911 responses to rural areas with upgraded technology systems. Those opposed say the project poses a number of safety and technology issues such as delay of definitive patient care, diminished first responder communications and risk of network failure.

In response to the opposition, Gov. Dunleavy's office has established a working group to determine how to move forward. State Sen. Peter Micciche, who has long opposed the original plan to consolidate, has been appointed as the Senate member for the working group. Micciche says he's happy to see multiple agencies represented in the task to come up with and present recommendations for the plan.

"I think the new plan should look a lot like the old plan, with some integrated efficiencies and some improvements for rural 911 response, and I think we can do that by September," said Micciche. "I think having those experts at the table will have buy-ins from local communities that primarily fund the 911 system and will require less state dollars that we don't have."

The working group will consist of members representing public safety, rural and emergency services. Micciche says there is absolutely a need for improved rural technical capabilities, however, he says it shouldn't come at the expense of safety in urban and semi-urban areas.

"Think about your loved one being out on a vehicle out on the Sterling Highway that's right in between the municipality and the state. So right now, it's using the same call center with local knowledge, local expertise, and they are very efficient on getting someone there," said Micciche.

"If you're calling Palmer, and that traffic accident is halfway to Homer, you simply don't have that local knowledge any longer."

DPS Commissioner, Amanda Price, has said it would improve safety response to the 80 percent of our state that isn't covered by enhanced 911 services, and allow for things like having a call back number and location information.

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