911 consolidation moving forward, Franklin Co. system needs upgrade

FRANKLIN CO., Wash. -- The move to consolidate Benton and Franklin Counties' 911 dispatch centers is moving forward, but while our local governments work to get on the same page, Franklin County's system is in dire need of an upgrade.

Franklin County Commissioners decided this week to keep the old system.

Plans have been in motion to bring both our county's dispatch centers under one roof for several years. Law enforcement, city managers, and county commissioners have spent thousands of dollars on feasibility studies and system designs. But the process has been slow going.

"All of our jurisdictions are on board as well, it's just a matter of the process of getting five jurisdictions to do anything," says Franklin County Commissioner Brad Peck.

He says consolidation would help law enforcement respond faster and could end up saving tax-payer money. But in the interim, Franklin County's dispatch system needs a serious upgrade.

The question isn't whether or not consolidation needs to take place, the added efficiency and tax-payer savings would be tremendous. The question remains, whether or not Franklin County's current 911 system will last long enough for the consolidation to take place.

Over the phone, Sheriff Lathim said a 300 thousand dollar upgrade is necessary to maintain the integrity of the current 911 system.
But that upgrade would put Franklin County on a different phone vendor, which commissioner Peck says is a problem.

"We're faced with a situation where we have an aging system that does need to be improved, upgraded, modernized, at the same time that we're doing consolidation. The key here is to make sure these two are compatible and support one another. So in effect, we'd be looking at spending 300,000 dollars for a phone system that might only be in play for as little as three months," he says

Sheriff Lathim says they can only hope that it lasts long enough for consolidation. Brad Peck says they hope to have agreements for the consolidated system ironed out by the end of the summer.

A new consolidated system could be up and running in as little as six months.