Salt Lake County may have to pay an extra $80,000 this year so Sheriff Pete Hayward can use his own dispatchers rather than join other cities in a consolidated, computer-enhanced 911 center.
Officials said the sheriff's office prefers handling its own calls rather than relying on a consolidated dispatching system that includes several cities."We handle calls differently than other jurisdictions," said Charlie Shepherd, chief deputy sheriff.
However, Salt Lake County commissioners say they will meet soon to study whether the sheriff should be allowed to have his own dispatchers.
"I think we ought to find out why," Commission Chairman Bart Barker said.
Meanwhile, South Salt Lake also wants to retain its own dispatchers. But the city will use a system that is less expensive than the sheriff's while being equally effective, officials said. The South Salt Lake system will cost $11,000.
"Economically, this is the best for everyone concerned," said Jim Davis, mayor of South Salt Lake. The city's dispatchers handle a variety of duties, and the city would have to hire new dispatchers if it joined a consolidated system, he said.
The new, enhanced 911 system, which will begin operating early in 1989, is funded through a 38-cent surcharge on all local telephone bills. The money has been accumulating since July 1986, so the extra expenses will not require an increase in the surcharge, officials said.
The entire enhanced system will cost about $435,000 to set up, said Larry Hinman, county fire chief.
Emergency workers will be able to respond much quicker to calls using the enhanced system. Officials say dispatchers will be able to send crews within 15 seconds of receiving a call. Currently, it takes about 90 seconds.
Meanwhile, governments throughout the county have agreed to form only two main 911 answering centers, rather than the several that originally were proposed.
Under the new configuration, Salt Lake City will have its own center; and Midvale, Murray, South Jordan, West Jordan, West Valley City, Sandy and the Salt Lake County Fire Department will consolidate into a second center, located in Murray City Hall.
The sheriff will handle police calls in the unincorporated county and remaining cities through a separate "ring down," officials said. Operators at the 911 center will have to ring police calls down to the sheriff's dispatchers. South Salt Lake will use a similar procedure.
Shepherd said the procedure will not delay the sheriff's responses to emergencies.
Sandy Mayor Steve Newton said other cities may not have been as willing to form a consolidated system if the sheriff wanted to be part of the main answering center.
"The sheriff, in all candor, makes all the rest of the police agencies nervous," he said.
Government leaders, worried about losing control of their own police and fire departments, argued for two years over which cities should control the answering centers.
Newton said the two main centers could eventually be joined. Meanwhile, the centers are prepared to back each other up.
The enhanced system will allow operators to see the address and telephone number of each caller on a computer screen the moment the call is made. Even if the caller can't speak, emergency vehicles will be dispatched to the address.
Under the current system, operators must trace calls when informants fail to give complete addresses. The traces can take anywhere from several minutes to several hours.
County officials last year began using parts from one of the three outdated 911 switchboards to repair the other two rapidly deteriorating consoles.