Crawford County begins transition process for consolidated 911 dispatch center

VAN BUREN, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Crawford County will change how it will receive 911 calls after it consolidates three dispatch locations across the county into one Van Buren location.

“It’ll be a more structured training, so more personal one-on-one,” said Kelsey Young, quality assurance and training coordinator supervisor for Crawford County Emergency Services.

She’s been a dispatcher for four years.

“I feel like it’s going to help build morale within the center with this being a tighter-knit community,” said Young.

Crawford County is in the process of consolidating three dispatch centers that will serve the entire county.

“Alma, have their own dispatch, Van Buren have their own dispatch and the sheriff’s office have their own dispatch. We brought them all together,” said Hunter Wiley, 911 director for Crawford County Emergency Communications Center.

This change is mandated by Act 660, which is also known as the Arkansas Public Safety Act of 2019. The act requires there to be only one 911 center per county. Wiley says he welcomes the consolidation.

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“So, right now, we are sharing one room in the sheriff’s office, and that’s what we’re dispatching out. So this new building will provide us with a lot of space,” said Wiley.

Crawford County Judge Chris Keith says the new facility will cost about $3.7 million. $1.6 million went toward the building itself and $2.1 million went to furnishing and equipping the center. This includes a new tower for all radios, TVs, and new systems.

“We’ll have more tools in space for training and cueing our calls and all that kind of stuff. It’s more efficient for us,” said Wiley.

Wiley says space was a big factor in adding to the center. Although the center broke ground in September 2022, he says there’s still work to be done.

Young says she can’t wait to welcome their new home.

“Nobody ever actually sees the dispatchers. They just hear from them. So, just to have a little bit of light shed on dispatch to where we have our own or something to call our own,” said Young.

Crawford County Judge Chris Keith says the new communications center will help provide a quicker response time for Crawford County residents. He also says dispatch centers will begin moving to the new location in early May.

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