Cell Phones Now Safer In Jackson County

Vancleave resident Shea McNease has had a cell phone for ten years. In that time, he's been paying Jackson County a dollar a month for his 911 cell service. Even though the new cell phone locator service began this month, McNease says his payments will be paying off.

"I think in my line of work, it's very important because I'm out in the rural areas in the county, and you never know what's going to happen," McNease said. "I'm involved in construction, so there's always the potential for an emergency."

In an emergency, McNease could call 911 in Jackson County. Then the new tracking system would be able to pinpoint his location within 15 feet.

"From cell phones we don't have a physical address," Jackson County dispatcher Julie Porter said. "So what we're depending on now is a longitude and latitude that we can put into our GSI and therefore put a better locator on them."

In most cases the service is a just a precaution. 911 dispatchers can usually find out where someone is by talking to them.

"But in those small percentage of cases where they can't talk to the people, or the people don't know where they are, this is the answer," said George Showl with the Jackson County 911 service.

"I don't think it's too much to pay for the service that you get on your cell phone bill," McNease said.

By Claire Nelson