911 in Pass Christian = Gulfport dispatcher

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

PASS CHRISITAN, MS (WLOX) - People who dial 911 in Pass Christian will soon find themselves connected with a dispatcher in Gulfport. Pass Christian officials say the city has agreed to let the Harrison County Sheriff's Department take over its dispatch starting April 22.

This month Wanda Martin celebrates four years as a dispatcher for the Pass Christian Police Department. The chief says employees who stay as long as Martin, are the exception.

"Small department like ours, we're the lowest paid on the totem pole," said Chief John Dubuisson. "We're competing for the same people out there that do the work."

Mayor Chipper McDermott said it costs Pass Christian about $120,000 a year to operate its own dispatch. He says the Harrison County Sheriff's Department has agreed to run the operation for $100,000 a year.

"We'll have 24 hours like we do now, but it's way more sophisticated down there, the system they have and the technology,"said Mayor McDermott. "So it will be good for all of us and save us money also."

Pass Christian police expect that most residents won't notice a difference as emergency response time will be the same as before.

"The 911 will still ring. You'll get the same service you got after Katrina, which people didn't know at the time, the calls were all being forwarded to Biloxi. We had no dispatch in this area for a while after Katrina," Chief Dubuisson said.

"We're also going to have a walk-in area here, because after 4 p.m. in the evening the station will be closed," said Chief Dubuisson. "The only people in will be patrol officers. We're going to have an area that's going to have a phone in it. You walk in and you pick up the phone. It dials the Sheriff's Department. You speak directly to a dispatcher and if you need to see an officer, they'll dispatch an officer to you here at the station."

Chief Dubuisson said when the new Pass Christian Police station is built, it will have space for dispatch, just in case Pass Christian should decide to again employ its own dispatchers.

For now, however, that is not the department's long term goal.

"We're looking forward to being able to take dispatch and turn it over to the 911 Commission," said Dubuisson. "This is just a step in that direction and we would like for all the departments to come along with us eventually."

The D'Iberville Police Department also uses Harrison County Sheriff's Department dispatchers.

©2009 WLOX. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.