Dispatch Communication Across State Lines

By: Shannon Houser
By: Shannon Houser

"Usually if we go across state lines it's something more significant such as domestic violence, drug related, an accident, skip," says Washington County Dispatcher, Anna Simmons.

Dispatchers have a tough job to do, communicating between 911 centers during a fast pace and constantly changing situation.

"The information they're able to provide us, we automatically send over to Wood County, so we're the man in between them since they don't have direct contact," Simmons says.

It takes focus and concentration to keep up with what's happening on the road.

"We were able to see our mapping system and see the roads he was turning onto, where they lead to, where we could have officers come in and assist from that end with spike strips," describes Wood County 911 Dispatcher, Randy Shepherd.

"Once we cross state lines, usually dispatch has already sent a BOLO to them, letting them know to be on the lookout for them. We try to keep them up to speed, the direction they're traveling, which roads they're using," Simmons adds.

It also takes technology. Both Wood and Washington County have the tools to allow communication between individual law enforcement agencies.

"We have the ability here where we can patch all of our agencies together to where they can talk to each other on different frequencies," Shepherd says.

And that allows dispatchers to focus on the most important part of a multi-state chase, the safety of everyone on the road.

"If it's something where the public is at risk, they'll either try to block the roadway off to try to keep people safe from the vehicle. They also monitor the road conditions, such as if it's raining, because they will end a pursuit if it's more of a threat to the public," Simmons says.

Wood County 911 Director, Randy Lowe, says in the near future, they hope to receive technology allowing law enforcement in West Virginia to communicate directly with Ohio.

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