Washington Parish Communications District

News Items

Washington Parish (01/14/17) - We Should Be Using Parish 911 Center, Bogalusa Daily News

It is a shame the parish’s joint 911 communications facility is not serving the entire purpose for which it was built.

James Coleman, the chairman of the Washington Parish Communications District, made a very compelling case this week that not only is the technology better, but by requiring the dispatcher to focus only on emergency response, they will be better at emergency response.

So, if the location’s technologies, the computers and its decentralized locations would make it better than the current setup, there is no question that it should be used.

As it stands now, Franklinton, Bogalusa and the parish sheriff’s office each have their own 911 dispatch offices. Perhaps this setup has so far never been cause for any delay or confusion in emergency response. However, the greater the chances for delay or confusion, the more likely that at some point someone will suffer and possibly even die.

While we realize dispatch officers perform vital office tasks and losing them would require either additional work by existing staff or new hires, extra work and money hardly seem equal measures to a life. Moreover, if the dispatch work is at a combined location, presumably fewer workers would be needed. Therefore, perhaps it is possible for each law enforcement office to retain a single dispatch officer to work daytime hours around the office.

Whatever the solution is, we are confident that our three law enforcement offices could find a solution if they sat together and thought of one.

We encourage them to do this sooner, rather than later.

Washington Parish (01/11/17) - Agencies Slow To Re-Locate To 911 Center, Bogalusa Daily News

DAILY NEWS PHOTO/Jesse Wright
James Coleman, chairman of the Washington Parish Communications District, addresses the Washington Parish Republican Women on Tuesday.

DAILY NEWS PHOTO/Jesse Wright James Coleman, chairman of the Washington Parish Communications District, addresses the Washington Parish Republican Women on Tuesday

On Tuesday, the Washington Parish Republican Women got a tour and an informational briefing about the Communications District building off Highway 10.

Specifically, the group wanted to know why the building — which was built in part to house the parish’s 911 operations and has a budget of nearly half-a-million dollars, still does not house the parish’s 911 operations.

Instead, the Franklinton Police Department, the sheriff and the Bogalusa Police Department each have separate 911 dispatch centers. While the Highway 10 building is ready to house the unified dispatches, there appears to be no immediate push to occupy the facility that includes more up-to-date communications equipment.

The bottom line seems to be that nobody wants to go first.

James Coleman, the chairman of the Washington Parish Communications District explained to the group that, first, the building has three functions with the 911 center being only one of those and, second, he suspects the reluctance to move to the central location is just a reluctance to change.

“We cannot force anyone to do it,” Coleman said, of the communications district.

Mike Haley, the sheriff’s chief deputy, said the issue is — in a word — complicated.

“This has been an ongoing issue and there are several facets to the issue,” Haley wrote, in an email. “It seems that before the facility was constructed, no plan was put in place to staff it with dispatchers from various parish agencies.

“It is a nice facility but we are not there for various reasons, including, one, it would be unwise to place a single dispatcher there with no support system. Two, we have no funds to relocate our dispatchers because to do so would require hiring additional personnel to man our lobby and handle walk-in complaints, jail visitation and other matters. Due to finances, we operated with staffing and do not have funds to create and staff additional positions.

“Three, if the other agencies relocated to the center it would be more feasible for us to relocate there, but even then we do not have funds to create and staff additional positions. The 911 Board does not compensate WPSO for handling 911 calls. I hope this bit of information is helpful.”

Franklinton’s police chief, Olander Smith, said he thinks the move would be smart as it’s a “state-of-the-art” facility. However, Smith said he didn’t think a small department like Franklinton’s should be the first to make the move. In addition, he said the decision would need to come from his bosses — Franklinton’s mayor and board of aldermen.

In Bogalusa, Mayor Wendy Perrette said she’s always supported the move, but in the past resistance has come from the police union. She said she considered it scandalous that the dispatch units have not yet consolidated.

Kendall Bullen, the city’s new police chief, said he had not yet given the move much thought yet. Bullen has been the chief since Jan. 1.

Coleman added that he believes the dispatchers themselves may also be opposed to the move because, as it is now, they can chat with officers in their down time, and they couldn’t do that if everything was consolidated.

“When things are slow, I have to assume they like to gossip and talk about this and that,” he said. “Out here they couldn’t face-to-face gossip with the officers. We think the social interaction will still be here, but at a different level.”

Besides housing the 911 dispatch, the communications building also houses the parish’s map development and addressing facilities, the facilities that mark locations on emergency maps to better serve service personnel. In addition, the building also has a centralized communications room in case of emergencies and can withstand high winds, bullets and explosions. The building’s total cost including antennas and equipment came to $3 million that was paid in federal and state grants.

Coleman said the building’s emergency notification system is so advanced that if dispatchers were to use it, they could alert residents in a specific location all at once via a recorded telephone message about an industrial or natural disaster.

On a day-to-day basis, 911 fees on telephone bills fund the building and Coleman estimated that, without the dispatch center, it’s being used to about two-thirds of its capacity. Coleman said the sheriff and the two police departments employ four people each to maintain each dispatch system 24 hours a day. If the three systems were to join, he said there would be no reduction in salaries, although everyone would move to the communications building.

“There would be no savings in cost,” he said. “They’d just move from one chair to another chair.”

However, Coleman said he believed the move could reduce distraction. As it is now, he said each department depends on its dispatchers to do all kinds of administrative tasks that have nothing to do with emergency dispatch. Removing them from the offices would mean they could focus only on dispatch and that could help save lives.

Coleman said the consolidation could also improve teamwork and communications between agencies.

Coleman said he believes one day the consolidation will happen.

“Once it starts, it’s going to snowball,” he said. “You just have to get one of them out here.”

Coleman said if citizens want a unified dispatch, they should gently “encourage” their leadership.

“Encouragement in a friendly manner,” he said. “Not in a confrontational manner.”

Baton Rouge (6/17/16) - Governor Edwards signs Act 590, which provides for the assessment of an increased surcharge fee on prepaid 911 services.

 

Baton Rouge (6/17/16) - Governor Edwards signs Act 665, which provides for the assessment of an increased 9-1-1 fee on CMRS (Commercial Mobile Radio Service) service connections.  CMRS service connections includes cell phones.

 

Washington Parish (12/2/15) - City Council Tours Dispatch Site, Bogalusa Daily News

 

Four Bogalusa City Council members toured the 911 Emergency Dispatch Center in Sheridan on Monday to gain a better understanding of the pros and cons of moving the 911 center from the Bogalusa Police Department to the proposed location.

 

A proposed ordinance to move the 911 Emergency Dispatch Center was tabled at the Nov. 17 meeting so the council could gain a better understanding of the issue.

 

The proposed ordinance had its opponents, including BPD Sgt. James Cockrell, who was the most vocal against the move, citing an undue financial burden on the city. He said the move would cost the city approximately $300,000 in salaries and modernizing of equipment. Cockrell is also a member of the Office and Professional Employees International Union. Dispatch Supervisor Shauna Henke also spoke out against the move at the last meeting.

 

Councilman At-Large and City Council President Teddy Drummond, District A Councilwoman Gloria Kates, District B Councilwoman Tamira Smith and District E Councilwoman Sherry Fortenberry all made the trip out to Sheridan to visit the facility. Drummond and Fortenberry said they liked by what they saw and learned.

 

“I’m highly impressed with the facility,” Drummond said. The building is like Fort Knox. These guys put in a lot of thought, effort and research into it because Homeland Security told them the call center has to be the hub of all your communications during a disaster. You don’t need to worry about your safety doing it.”

 

Drummond said he sees relocation of the call center as a good thing.

 

“I think it would be a win-win situation for the city and parish,” Drummond said. “You’d have a police officer working side by side with a Sheriff’s Office dispatcher. I believe the two departments could work more hand in hand like this.”

 

Fortenberry echoed Drummond’s sentiments.

 

The facility was very nice and I was very impressed,” Fortenberry said. “I got some of my questions answered. It would free up three firemen that could be put on the road, and not close any police department or fire department. I just think it’s a good thing.”

 

At the Nov. 17 meeting, Bogalusa Mayor Wendy Perrette said change often scares people. She said she was willing to try the move, provided it wasn’t cost prohibitive as Cockrell indicated it would be.

 

‘“I don’t think it will cost the city $300,000,” Fortenberry said. “It’s a change from they’re used to, and not a lot of people are open to change. In my opinion, it would be a good change.”

 

Kates and Smith were unavailable for comment Tuesday morning.

Washington Parish (10/5/15) - Sheriff’s Office And City Of Bogalusa Plan To Consolidate Dispatch Services, Bogalusa Daily News

 

(L to R) Bogalusa Mayor Wendy O’Quin-Perrette, Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal

 

Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal and Bogalusa Mayor Wendy O’Quin-Perrette announce a joint venture to relocate all dispatch services to the 911 Call Center on Dollar Road. A transition plan is being developed that will allow all calls for assistance to the Sheriff’s Office, the Bogalusa Police Department and the Bogalusa Fire Department to be managed from a central location with multiple dispatchers.

 

The 911 Call Center contains state of the art equipment which will assist all agencies to be more efficient in receiving calls and dispatching personnel to crime or fire scenes. Dispatchers from each agency will be able to provide back-up support to each other. All calls for service will be recorded to provide a record of services requested and services provided.

 

The consolidation of agency dispatchers will be especially helpful in the event of a natural disaster in the parish. The Call Center will serve as a central command location so that all requests for assistance and emergency responses can be coordinated to better serve all citizens.

 

Sheriff Randy Seal says that he and Mayor O’Quin-Perrette have been in discussion for several weeks about relocating to the 911 Call Center. “This is a move that the Mayor and I have been discussing for a while. Each of us serves the citizens of our parish and we want to do all we can to make that service more beneficial to all. As our equipment ages, it makes good sense to take advantage of newer equipment and a centralized location that will better serve us all. It is a good financial and logistical move that will enable us continue to do a good job in serving citizens in both jurisdictions.”

 

Mayor O’Quin-Perrette echoes Sheriff’s Seal comments, adding, “The Sheriff and I see this as a win-win situation for the parish and the city. It is so good to work together for the betterment of all. Each of us cares deeply for the residents of Bogalusa and throughout the parish, and want to do everything we can to serve them in the most efficient and practical manner possible. This move will free up fire department personnel for firefighting duties and will be a positive personnel and financial move for the City of Bogalusa.”

 

No date has been set for completing the transition process. The Sheriff’s Office, the City of Bogalusa and the staff of the 911 Call Center will be working together in coming weeks to make a seamless transition.

Franklinton, (9/16/14) - Senator Ben Nevers of Washington Parish Receives Recognition for his support during the planning and construction of the Emergency Operations and Communications Center

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(L to R) - Parish President Richard Ned Thomas; Louisiana Senator Ben Nevers; Director of the Washington Parish Communications District Joanna Thomas,  and Communications District Chairman Jim Coleman

Franklinton, (9/14/14) - New photos of the Emergency Operations and Communications Center have been added to this website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Franklinton, (6/1/13) - Grand Opening Held for completed Emergency Operations and Communications Center

Attending  was Councilman Mike Fussell; Washington Parish President Richard Thomas; Tangipahoa Parish President Gordon Burgess; Joanna Thomas, 911 Director; James Coleman, 911 Chairman; Thomas Thiebaud, Director of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness;  Councilman Ken Wheat; and Washington Parish Sherriff Randy "Country" Seal.

 

Franklinton, (10/18/12)- Construction on the Emergency Operations and Communications Center Continues toward its expected completion date in the spring of 2013.

Front View

Back View

Side View

Franklinton, (04/29/12)- New Emergency Operations and Communications Center, expected to be fully constructed within a year, will provide a centralized location in Washington Parish for both day-to-day emergency calls and response in times of disaster. Parish President Richard Ned Thomas on Friday signed a contract with McMath Construction of Mandeville for the construction of the 5,200 square foot facility, which will be located on Dollar Road — just outside of Sheridan and near the parish’s geographic center.

Franklinton, (04/12/12)- Tower Equipment Shelter Delivered and placed into position at site on Dollar Road.

Franklinton, (02/15/12)- ADVERTISEMENT FOR BIDS

Sealed bids will be received by the Washington Parish Government until 1:00 P.M., Wednesday, March 21, 2012 at the office of Washington Parish Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, located at 803 Pearl Street, Franklinton, LA 70438 for construction of a 5,206 square foot Emergency Operations Center Building and associated site improvements in Sheridan, LA.

Franklinton, (11/13/11)- The flag that proudly flew over Bogalusa on the morning of September 11, 2001, is now flying again on one of the highest points in the parish.

 

Following the attacks on the twin towers and the Pentagon, the worn tattered old flag at Gaylord Container Corporation's Bogalusa Mill was replaced with a bright, new, red, white and blue banner.

 

Jim Coleman, a Gaylord employee and long time paramedic in Washington Parish saved that old flag as a reminder of the 479 emergency responders that gave their lives on that morning to help others.

 

This flag now flies at the top of the parish's new emergency communications tower. This tower and associated equipment is being installed to eliminate the type of interoperable communications problems that contributed to the tragic loss of firefighters, police officers and EMTs at the twin towers in 2001.

 

Once finished in March of 2012, the tower complex will contain the capability to communicate via multiple means to anybody, anywhere, anytime, both inside and outside the parish. Parish Homeland Security Director Tommy Thiebaud has stated, "This is the most important of several redundant initiatives, that the Parish has enacted, to prevent the loss of communications during emergency events.". Project Manager Jim Coleman said, "I would like to thank Parish President Richard N. Thomas Jr. for his continued support of this project; as well as the engineers at Richard C Lambert Consultants in Mandeville for their excellent work on this job".

 

Franklinton, (10/31/11) - District Adds Road Map Updates to this web site and on all dispatch positions in the system.

Franklinton, (10/14/11)- Tower Groundbreaking Ceremony occurs at Dollar Rd site.

Franklinton, (09/26/11)- Tower Construction to Begin in October by Sabre.

Franklinton, (08/2310)- FAA updates Public Safety Tower Review.

Franklinton, (08/06/10)- Advertisement for Bids - Washington Parish Communications Tower, Drawings and Specifications released.

Franklinton, (07/27/10)- Katrina Chronicles - Five Years Later issued.

Franklinton, (10/17/09) -  LAANG 205th Engineers Commence Heavy Equipment Operator Training at the site of the future Washington Parish Communications Center. See below SFC Jenkins and MSG Steven Adcox.

Franklinton, (09/09/09)- FCC grants public safety radio tower permit.

Franklinton, (08/18/09) -  Communications District board member presents  “On the Front Line:VoIP 101- 9-1-1- Operational Issues for Calltakers/Dispatchers” at APCO’s 75th Annual Convention.

Franklinton, (04/02/09) -  Communications District board member represents APCO Emerging Technologies Committee at a joint NENA/APCO working sessions with representatives of MagicJack.

Franklinton, (08/16/08) - District adds road map updates to this web site and on all dispatch positions in the system.

Franklinton, (08/07/08) -  Communications District board member presents “Chicken Soup for the GIS Soul” at APCO’s 74th Annual Convention.

Franklinton, (02/27/08) - District issues Request for Information (RFI) for Washington Parish communications tower project.

Franklinton, (12/20/07) - District adds road map updates to this web site and on all dispatch positions in the system.

Franklinton, (07/20/07) - Louisiana Bond Commission approves $ 500,000 appropriations for Communications Center planning and construction.

Franklinton, (07/09/07) - District adds road map updates to this web site and on all dispatch positions in the system.

Franklinton, (05/18/07) - District adds road map updates to this web site and on all dispatch positions in the system.

Franklinton, (03/27/07) - District adds church and cemetery landmark GIS information to 9-1-1 dispatch mapping.

Franklinton, (02/28/07) - District Parish successfully implements Vonage VoIP 9-1-1 system utilizing I2, P1 technology.

Franklinton, (11/27/06) - Washington Parish EMS Comprehensive Review and Recommendations currently available for review..

Franklinton, (11/17/06) - Washington Parish Road Maps have been updated on this web site and on all dispatch positions in the system.

Franklinton, (6/26/06) - Communications District issues INVITATION TO BID, CLEARCUT SALE, 8.88 ACRE PARCEL, SECTION 39, T2S-R12E, GREENSBURG LAND DISTRICT, WASHINGTON PARISH LOUISIANA

Franklinton, (5/15/06) - Communications District board member is certified as an Emergency Number Professional (ENP) by NENA.

Franklinton, (3/22/06) - Mapping system for dispatchers now plots the location of  wireline 9-1-1 calls. This system now plots the location of both wireline and wireless (cell phones) 9-1-1 calls on digital map of Washington Parish.

Franklinton, (3/13/06) - Emergency communications plan for Washington Parish released to the public at LOUISIANA SPEAKS open house in Bogalusa.

Franklinton, (1/06/06) - Aerial photography of Washington Parish is now available for public viewing on this web site according to recent press release.

Franklinton, (1/03/06) - At its January 3rd meeting, the Washington Parish Communications District unanimously approved the following motion, "Upon receipt of documentation of successful completion, the Communications District will reimburse the course registration cost, not to exceed $350 per dispatcher, of any 9-1-1 or dispatch related training courses taken in 2006, by the full time law enforcement dispatchers employed by agencies in Washington Parish. The board is supportive of the efforts by the law enforcement dispatchers to improve their professional qualifications, and that by doing so, such will benefit their agencies, and the public."

Franklinton, (10/18/05) - URISA’s GISCorps volunteer Sarah Zapolsky working from her home in Washington, DC, has completed her assignment to prepare color maps of Washington Parish capable of being printed for use by emergency responders and hurricane recovery personnel.  Sarah is a full time professional with AARP.  These maps are based on field work by the District's mapping specialist.  Maps can be accessed at http://www.wpcde-911.com/washington_parish_maps.htm .  Next map revisions will be in January, 2006.

Franklinton, (10/013/05) - Request made to the United States Congress for funding to improve the communications and emergency management systems in Washington Parish to become part of Senate Bill S.1765.

Franklinton, (10/06/05) - Report made at NENA NG E9-1-1 committee meeting in Schaumburg, IL, on the Effects of Katrina on the Washington Parish Communication System .

Franklinton, (09/28/05) - "The Washington that FEMA Forgot", a story of Washington Parish after Katrina in Fortune magazine.

Franklinton, 09/26/2005) - Washington Parish's CML ECS-1000 9-1-1 system placed back into service.  Hurricane Katrina caused massive damage to Bell South and Wireless computer routing equipment.  Some wireless calls may still be default routed to ten digit telephones at PSAP's.

(Franklinton, 08/29/2005) - Hurricane Katrina causes massive damage to Washington Parish including all Bell System CAMA and T-1 circuits and selective routing from the Franklin tandem in New Orleans.  Washington Parish 9-1-1 calls being default routed to ten digit telephones at PSAP's.  

(Franklinton, 08/15/2005) - National Cellular Phone Official Visits Washinton Parish.

(Franklinton, 07/28/2005) - Cingular authorized to turn up tower in Enon  with Phase 2 service.

(Franklinton, 07/27/2005) - Request for Proposal for Architectural, Engineering and Construction Management Services for a Basic Communications Center for Washington Parish released to prospective firms.

(Franklinton, 07/08/2005) - Cingular authorized to turn up towers in Angie and Mt Hermon with Phase 2 in Washington Parish.  See Cingular press release.

(Franklinton, 06/30/2005) - The Communications District and Valarie Patterson from the Deaf Action Center of the Northshore announces sign language course for area emergency responders will be taught in the August - September, 2005

(Franklinton, 06/30/2005) - TDD Communications With the Hearing Impaired course taught to area dispatchers by the Deaf Action Center of the Northshore

(Franklinton, 06/29/2005) - Communications District moves to its new location at 805 Pearl Street, Franklinton, Louisiana

(Franklinton, 06/28/2005) - Cingular authorized to turn up towers in Angie and Mt Hermon with Phase 1 in Washington Parish.  Phase II to follow.

Franklinton, 06/23/2005) - TDD Communications With the Hearing Impaired course taught to area dispatchers by the Deaf Action Center of the Northshore

Franklinton, 06/08/2005) - Calling 9-1-1 taught to attendees at Progressive Farmer Farm Day Safety Camp http://www.edailynews.info/articles/2005/06/28/lifestyles/lif01.txt 

(Franklinton, 04/27/2005) - Phase II cellular telephone testing successfully completed for the TDMA portions of the Centennial system.

(Franklinton, 04/18/2005) - Request for Proposal for a Unified CAD system for Washington Parish released to prospective vendors.

(Franklinton, 12/07/2004) - Phase II cellular telephone testing successfully completed for Sprint and portions of the Cingular system.  Three new Cingular towers are not yet ready for testing.

(Franklinton, 12/05/2004) - Phase II cell phone location system allows Washington Parish Sheriff's Office to locate citizen in need of medical attention who was unable to give his address due to his condition.  Caller was using a Verizon cell phone. This is the first documented Phase II "save" in Washington Parish. For details see this link.

(Franklinton, 11/10/2004) - Phase II cellular telephone testing successfully completed for Nextel.  

Franklinton, 11/01/2004) - Washington Parish Communications District announces job opening to fill internal vacancy.  Position description can be found on this web site.

(Franklinton, 10/25/2004) - Phase II cellular telephone testing successfully completed for Verizon.  

(Franklinton, 10/17/2004) - All persons interested in "9-1-1 for the Hearing Impaired" are invited to an open house on Tuesday, October 26, 2004, at the Washington Parish Communications District, 1007 Cleveland Street, Franklinton, Louisiana, at 7:00 PM.  Representatives of all police agencies in the Parish will be on hand to discuss their efforts to improve 911 services to hearing impaired citizens.  Valarie Patterson from the Deaf Action Center of the Northshore will also be in attendance to facilitate communications.

(Franklinton, 10/14/2004) - Installation of Phase II 9-1-1 call taking and mapping system has been completed at all agencies.  Cell tower testing begins on October 25th.

(Franklinton, 10/05/2004) - The Washington Parish Communications District congratulates the Parish's three PSAP's on their continued improvement in 9-1-1 Ring Times (time to answer 911 calls) since the replacement of equipment in July, 2004.

(Franklinton, 9/22/2004) - The Washington Parish Communications District meets requirements and receives grant payment of $ 52,000 from the Public Safety Foundation of America to be applied toward the installation of a Phase 2 wireless location capabilities.  This system is scheduled for start up in October of 2004, and will be the third such system in the state of Louisiana.

(Franklinton, 9/15/2004)- In preparation for Hurricane Ivan, the Washington Parish Communications District installed a temporary, second 9-1-1 answering position at the Washington Parish Sheriff's Office in anticipation of increased call volume during the expected severe weather.

(Franklinton, 9/13/2004) - U. S. Attorney Jim Letten announced the settlement of a complaint brought under the Americans with Disabilities Act by a deaf woman who could not get through to her area 911 emergency service on her TDD (Telephone Device for the Deaf also known as a TTY).  

(Franklinton, 7/16/2004) The Washington Parish Communications District completed the replacement of all its original 9-1-1 equipment on July 16, 2004.  As of that date, the entire parish is linked together with a single integrated 911 telephone system.