Thursday, June 8, 2023

Online petition organized to keep JCC dispatch center in county

A James City County house sustained extensive damage after it caught fire in 2017. (WYDaily/Courtesy of James City County)
A James City County house sustained extensive damage after it caught fire in 2017. (WYDaily/Courtesy of James City County)

A petition has started online in an effort to encourage James City County officials to keep dispatch communications in its existing location, instead of outsourcing the center to York County.

James City County is in the process of evaluating future options for its emergency communications center because both the computer-aided dispatch system and records management software will need to be updated within the next few years.

The county is facing two options: merge its dispatch center with another covering Williamsburg, York County and Poquoson, or spend several million dollars to keep the systems in-house. The decision will need to be made in the upcoming few months, County Administrator Scott Stevens told WYDaily last week.

“We’re trying to evaluate what the best way is to provide service to the county,” Stevens said.

RELATED STORY: In need of new software, James City County weighs merging dispatch center with York

The possibility of merging James City County’s dispatch center with the one covering Williamsburg, York County and Poquoson also came up last year and received criticism from area dispatchers.

Since the issue popped up last week, a Facebook group called “Save Our Dispatchers” and an online petition started in an effort to preserve the existing center.

As of 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, the petition had 290 signatures.

The petition was started Aug. 30 and seeks 500 signatures.

The name and identity of the person who started the petition is unclear; Change.org lists the petitioner as “Harry Meanwell” and shows a man wearing a mask.

“Because of a failure by an old Board of Supervisors to anticipate needs in the future, JCC is now experiencing a water crisis,” the petition reads. “The citizens of the county don’t need another future failure.”

The petition continued: “Instead of being persuaded into an arrangement that may be later regretted, now is the time for innovation, not relocation.  Maintaining the 9-1-1 system in James City County will allow for the county to explore new partnerships with other jurisdictions beyond only York County. Bigger is not always better and the possibility of errors occurring grows as the size of the area served grows.”

Stevens said James City County is still in the process of putting together criteria to evaluate what would be the best course of action.

He said his recommendation to the Board of Supervisors will be based on what option provides the best service to residents and visitors in the county.

“… Dispatchers believe service is better if it’s here,” Stevens said. “Right now, I’m not committed to it either way.”

Stevens plans to follow up with dispatchers at least once more to get their opinions and thoughts.

“I want to make sure they’re involved — they do know [the system] the best of all of us,” he said.

Stevens will present his preliminary findings about the pros and cons of a merger to the James City County Board of Supervisors during a board work session Sept. 24.

Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing
Sarah Fearing is the Assistant Editor at WYDaily. Sarah was born in the state of Maine, grew up along the coast, and attended college at the University of Maine at Orono. Sarah left Maine in October 2015 when she was offered a job at a newspaper in West Point, Va. Courts, crime, public safety and civil rights are among Sarah’s favorite topics to cover. She currently covers those topics in Williamsburg, James City County and York County. Sarah has been recognized by other news organizations, state agencies and civic groups for her coverage of a failing fire-rescue system, an aging agriculture industry and lack of oversight in horse rescue groups. In her free time, Sarah enjoys lazing around with her two cats, Salazar and Ruth, drinking copious amounts of coffee and driving places in her white truck.

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