Visalia makes solo plans for dispatch center

FRESNO, Calif.

Visalia city dispatchers are literally running out of room.

Gloria House, Visalia Dispatch Supervisor said, "We need more rooms to house our dispatchers and put a little more space between them so they're not backing into each other when they back up in their chairs."

Rapid population growth in the city of Visalia over the last 10 years has led to more calls for service into the city's dispatch center, which dispatches for both the police and fire departments.

Since 2005 Visalia has been joining with Tulare County to consolidate their dispatch systems, helping them share employees and information on calls.

Nearly seven years later, Visalia city officials say the county wants to go from consolidating to cohabitating, only sharing a new building and not systems. Last week, the city decided it would be best to move forward with it's own new dispatch system and center.

Capt. Jason Salazar, Visalia Police Department said, "Staffing is probably the biggest issue that we have and you know getting qualified candidates to come in and be dispatchers and having enough people on shifts, as you can imagine, we've grown over the years."

City officials have not yet picked out a location for the new dispatch center but one option is the old Caltrans site in Northeast Visalia.

Captain Jason Salazar says the city has an immediate need to improve services. He hopes they can hire six more dispatchers to help on nights that are busy with calls.

Capt. Jason Salazar said, "There's the whole concept of digital radios and next generation 9-1-1 that's coming down the road that we would like to move towards and that would take new infrastructure technologically to get to that point."

However Tulare County officials are disappointed with the city's plans to move forward solo.

Phil Cox, Tulare County Supervisor said, "We're not happy about it we feel the city of Visalia pulled the trigger too soon. It's like throwing the baby out with the bath water. We're ready to continue and move forward so we're still ready to keep the discussions open and consider doing a joint dispatch."

If the city's plans to move forward alone goes as planned, it could break ground on a new dispatch facility in two years.

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