N.C. 911 Center Merger Has Leaders at Odds

ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. -- Rowan County leaders and Salisbury city officials are arguing about public safety. The county plans to build a brand new 911 center in 2012 and offered to merge dispatching with Salisbury. City...


ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. --

Rowan County leaders and Salisbury city officials are arguing about public safety.

The county plans to build a brand new 911 center in 2012 and offered to merge dispatching with Salisbury. City leaders said they have major concerns, especially after deadly fires in Salisbury and Asheville.

Rowan County dispatchers currently handle every 911 call for firefighters and medical emergencies but not for Salisbury police.

"We transfer the call to the police department so there is a time delay," said County 911 Director, Rob Robinson.

Robinson said merging with Salisbury police dispatch would result in faster response and would save Salisbury money on computer equipment.

"I say we merge the two, especially to save lives," said Rowan County resident, Alby Stamey.

Salisbury leaders are making demands before they decide to join forces.

After a deadly mill fire in 2008 killed two firefighters in Salisbury, the city spent $100,000 on new heat and water-resistant radios.

They are requesting they be used county-wide.

In July, a fire inside a medical building in Asheville killed the local fire captain. A dispatcher listening to firefighters' radios heard the mayday call for help.

Salisbury officials want a dispatcher in Rowan County dedicated to listening to radio traffic.

County leaders said they can't afford those two requests.

Citizens said they want to be safe.

All these bureaucrats need to quit butting heads about who wants to be king, the city or the county. They need to get past that get together and work as a team," Stamey said.

No meetings between the city and county have been scheduled.

County leaders hope to break ground on the new 911 center in January.

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