Lacombe Police Service expects to roll out a new dispatch system designed to speed up response times on Nov. 15.
Barring any last-minute snags, in mid-November 911 calls will be passed directly from the 911 centre to Lacombe police without first going through the RCMP’s communication centre in Red Deer.
“We’re still installing equipment and doing testing of equipment,” said acting Police Chief Lorne Blumhagen. “We are currently in our training phase, getting our folks trained on the various systems.”
Taking over dispatch is expected to remedy poor police response times, a top complaint of local residents.
It wasn’t unusual for a 15-minute lag time between a call to police and officers arriving on scene. Average response time was 13:24 minutes. Moving dispatch services in-house is expected to chop response times to an average of 6:45.
There is not expected to be any disruption to service during the switch-over and Blumhagen is confident the system will be ready to go as planned. Some other internal changes will also be made at the police department to accommodate dispatch.
Earlier this year, city council approved spending nearly $295,000 for a computer-aided dispatch system and a new first responders radio system. As part of that, police portable and mobile radios will be upgraded to mesh with the Alberta First Responders Communications System.
The city also anticipates some cost savings. Staffing and running the service is expected to save the city about $118,000 a year.