If you dial 911 in Pinellas County, a person answers your call in the basement of a building in downtown Clearwater, and, if a crime is involved, transfers your call to your local law enforcement agency, often many miles away. Then you have to tell your story all over again to a dispatcher, who sends out a police officer or deputy.
Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is trying to do away with that redundancy by talking up a regional 911 communications system, with both 911 call takers and police dispatchers working together under one roof. Any municipality choosing to join the system including St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs, Pinellas Park and Largo would be giving up its police dispatch systems, and it’s far from a sure thing all, or any, of them will. Police dispatchers, working out of a city’s police station, are often seen as an integral part of the protection an agency provides….