March 13, 2014
Phones are always ringing at the Staunton police 91-1 call center. Soon, they'll ring even more. As cell phones users increase, so do calls to dispatch centers. According to Staunton Police Captain Leslie Miller, "One accident on Interstate 81 or 64 could generate 20 plus calls."
But right now, many of those calls are not going to the right place. Miller notes, "When an individual is in Staunton and they dial 911 on a cell phone, it rings to the Virginia State Police." State Police must forward the call, losing precious time, but not for long. Staunton, like many local departments, is overhauling its 911 system.
In the next 30 to 60 days, most local 911 cell calls will go to the local center. Your name and cell number will appear on dispatcher's screens. And in the next year or so, all new cell phones will be fitted with GPS technology. "That will give us the capability of finding out where that phone is at the time that that call is made, within so many feet," says Miller.
Miller says it's a service that must be offered in this day and age. Staunton, Waynesboro, Augusta County, Harrisonburg, and Rockingham County are all working together on wireless 911 upgrades.