The Emergency Communications Center answers incoming 9-1-1 calls for the City of Merced processing requests for service for police, fire and emergency medical assistance. The dispatchers have access to translation services that allows them to communicate with callers who do not speak English, or have limited English language ability. This service is not only used by dispatchers but by Police Officers and other personnel to assist with investigations. To communicate with the hearing or speech impaired, the dispatchers use a TTY device to correspond with callers. The devices are installed at the three phone positions in the Communications Center. Some callers prefer to use the services of the “California Relay” instead of typing directly with a dispatcher.
Dispatchers are almost always the first contact the public has with the Police or Fire Department. They are required to triage and prioritize the incoming calls for service, and make referrals to other agencies when appropriate. They are also responsible for dispatching calls for service to Police Officers and fire personnel, tracking the whereabouts of those field units, and monitoring the safety of the field personnel in a 24-square-mile geographical area.
In addition to the services provided to the community, the dispatchers also process requests for background checks on individuals and registration checks on vehicles from officers in the field, request towing services, and enter vehicles, property (stolen, found and evidence) and restraining orders into the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS). Dispatchers staff the Emergency Communications Center 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The dispatchers work a variety of shifts and mandatory overtime to maintain the staffing levels necessary.
The Communications Center was completely remodeled in 2006. The center doubled its operating capacity that it had previously. The center grew from 2 radio positions and 1 call taking position to 4 radio positions and 1 call taking position. Each workstation now has three computer monitors for the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, one for the radio console, and one for the phone system. All telephone calls and radio transmissions are recorded on a digital audio recording device and the dispatchers are responsible for reproducing copies of audio recordings for officers, detectives, and the District Attorney’s Office.
In late 2005, the radio infrastructure was replaced. The Police Department added another radio frequency to the fleet and replaced all old radio equipment with state of the art Motorola equipment. With the completion of the upgrade to the Emergency Communications Center, the City of Merced Police Department is looking at receiving wireless 9-1-1 calls for service. This will be a service enhancement to the community as Merced Police Department dispatchers are able to answer the lines more quickly and are more familiar with local geography than CHP dispatchers. We do have in place dedicated phone lines strictly associated for the wireless transfers from CHP.