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Legislators seeking answers to keep dispatchers in jail building

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LOWVILLE — Lewis County legislators are taking steps to reconfigure space at the sheriff’s office to accommodate an updated emergency dispatch center. The improvements would allow for square footage and technological and mechanical upgrades necessary for an anticipated radio system upgrade.

“We think there’s a lot of hope there, if we can figure out the space,” said Chairman Michael A. Tabolt, R-Croghan.

If the space allows, the alterations would allow law enforcement dispatchers, who also are trained and sworn as correction officers, to remain on the jail site.

If dispatchers were required to be located in a separate building, as was in the plans for the recently denied county building project, new correction officers would have to be hired, at a cost of approximately $600,000 per year.

The state Commission of Correction is working with legislators and Sheriff Michael P. Carpinelli to see if the option to keep the dispatcher on the premises is feasible.

“We have to find out if the state will allow modifications,” Mr. Tabolt said.

“They can also answer the question if it would present any other safety concerns,” he said.

Questions on the current structure, at 5252 outer Stowe St., would have to be answered by an architect.

Representatives from Commission of Correction are expected to view the facility next week.

Via email, Walter McClure, deputy director of public information for the commission, said, “The Commission has been asked for technical assistance in siting the new office so as not to interfere with jail operations. If the dispatch office is to be sited away from the jail in the Sheriff’s law enforcement or civil areas, it will not require Commission approval. If it results in any alteration or improvement of the jail facility, it will require advance approval from the Commission.”

Mr. McClure explained how other facilities across the state handle dispatch operations.

“Some sheriffs’ offices dispatch their own patrol vehicles, while many others dispatch from a ‘911’ emergency call center that dispatches most or all of the police responses in the county,” he said. “The Commission regards it as unlikely that other sheriffs’ departments will seek to move dispatch operations into their jails.”

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