As of 2 a.m. Tuesday, the Salt Lake City dispatchers went online in their new, improved home.
The Salt Lake City 911 Bureau is the largest municipal 911 center in Utah with about 70 dispatchers. Salt Lake City consolidated its previously independent dispatch centers for police, fire and emergency medical services to create the bureau. The dispatch center will also handle calls for Sandy, which plans to leave the valley-wide Salt Lake Valley Emergency Communications Center (VECC) service on Oct. 27, given the rising costs associated with VECC.
While all the other departments began the move into the new Salt Lake City Public Safety Building, 475 S. 300 East, the dispatchers stayed behind at the old headquarters near 200 E. 300 South until the new system and equipment was ready for them.
The new dispatch center comes with color-coded lights at each desk to indicate how busy the dispatcher is. The supervisors, seated in an elevated portion of the center, can get a good feel for how operations are going with just a quick glance at all the lights around the room.
Dispatchers are also working on a new Internet-based system, an upgrade that allows them to spread a flood of calls between VECC and the 911 centers for Weber and Morgan counties so that no one center has to put off a call because it is too busy.
"We can send them calls, they can send us calls... It works a lot better," said Salt Lake City Deputy Police Chief Tim Doubt, who tweeted a photo of the new center up and running Tuesday morning.
Now only the evidence storage remains in use at the old building. Salt Lake City police are in talks with West Valley City about creating a joint evidence and crime lab facility. While the original plan was to have a proposal prepared by this past Labor Day, the move into the new building pushed that schedule back.
The 911 center is only one of seven in the world with a triple-accreditation from the National Academies of Emergency Dispatch, and the only one in the state with the rating, according to a May news release that named Scott Freitag, of the Salt Lake City Fire Department, as the director.