New equipment for police and fire dispatchers at City Hall will replace what the city’s Information Technology specialist Daniel Hunt described as a patchwork of older installations dating back 20 years.

The City Council recently approved a $89,614 bid by Sharp Communication to install dispatch center equipment for the police and fire departments.

“There’s been a lot of cooks in the kitchen,” Hunt said, describing various repairs made by different companies over the past two decades. Hunt said recent indirect hits by lightning caused some of the consoles where dispatchers take calls to slowly fail, and city officials decided to install three new consoles instead of adding to the collection of patched together equipment.

The installation process of three new consoles should be finished in about eight weeks, he said.

Linda Glenn, a dispatcher at City Hall, said local dispatchers received 29,188 phone calls in 2006. Hunt said two or three dispatchers are at work at all times, answering emergency calls, and occasional prank calls.

Michelle Holland, another dispatcher, said dispatchers attempt to call back anyone who calls 911 and hangs up, which isn’t possible when someone is using a de-activated cell phone that can still be used to dial 911.

“The most annoying thing is when we get calls from de-activated cell phones,” she said.

Glenn said if someone calls 911 and hangs up, an officer will respond to the location of the call.

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