911 calls still in jeopardy in East Feliciana Parish

Friday, October 26, 2012 - 7:00pm

The East Feliciana 911 center fields just under 2,500 calls a year, but thanks to dwindling budgets Sheriff Talmadge Bunch has said, come November 19th his office can't afford to help pay for a large portion of those call takers.

"It’s approximately $38,000 short, so the sheriff has been baring that cost all along. And it's just gotten to the point with tight budgets where the sheriff can not afford to do that anymore," said Craig Frosch, attorney for the sheriff’s office.

"We have told them time and time again that we're giving them as much money as we possibly can, and that's basically it," Bill Ford, Chairman of the Emergency Communications Commission said.

The emergency communications commission met Friday, on the agenda was a response to the sheriff, and a need to figure out just how they're going to keep the 911 calls answered.

"The best scenario would be to continue on as we are right now. And ultimately give us time to set up here, so that we can do the call taking here and hopefully, eventually dispatching can come out of this office," Ford explained, referencing the newly built Emergency Operations building in the parish. Ford said it would take several months to get the building ready.

Though the two sides can't seem to find common ground on who is going to pay for the incoming 911 calls to be taken, there is one thing they can agree on. Come November 19th, 911 calls will still be answered one way or another.

"The reality of the situation is the sheriff is not going to allow the citizens of this parish to be without protection, to be without emergency services," Frosch assured citizens.

"We have some options that are available to us to guarantee the residents of the parish will always have 911 available to them. So that's never going to happen, where they call 911 and not have somebody answer," Ford added.

While the commission is exploring options for call taking, neither the sheriff or the 911 commission has offered up the missing funding.


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