Lake County, Ind., to open new 911 center after dispatcher troubles

ABC7 Exclusive
CROWN POINT, Ind. (WLS) -- ABC7 Eyewitness News has an exclusive look inside the new 911 center in Lake County, Indiana.

Earlier this year, dispatchers were fired and disciplined for mishandling some emergency calls. Now, a brand-new, $21 million 911 center serves nearly every town in Lake County, Indiana.

"Once they were on board they said, okay, let's move forward. So everyone is onboard now and it's going to happen," said Brian Hitchcock, executive director, Lake County 911.

Seven years ago, Indiana passed a law calling for towns to consolidate their operations under the county. Lake County has 15 cities under this one roof.

Two towns - Schererville and Cedar Lake - are fighting the consolidation, even though a $9 million radio system will cover the entire county.

"The radio system is going to be much better than anyone in this county has experienced with the coverage, with the quality," said Jack Allendorf, deputy director, Lake County 911.

This center will open after recent troubles with dispatchers.

In May, Clement Ervin passed out in a Gary gym. The dispatcher was disciplined for the way she handled the call.

In June, Burt Sanders died of a heart attack inside a Gary church after his 911 call was mishandled. Lake County 911 fired a dispatcher and suspended another one.

Once the dispatchers move from their towns to this center, they will be supervised 24/7 and trained on a new computer program.

"The dispatchers will be able to know the questions they are supposed to ask and the advice they are supposed to give, and those are based on national standards," Hitchcock said.

There is a training center, a quiet room after dispatchers take tough calls, and the 31 miles of wiring to keep it all running. In a nutshell, it means quicker responses for nearly 460,000 Lake County residents, Hitchcock said.

The 911 center will launch next month in Crown Point.

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