State budget calls for $6.7M to upgrade every 911 call center

Published: May. 12, 2017 at 8:07 PM CDT
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Millions of dollars might soon be spent upgrading 911 call centers across the state.

The upgrade would allow every call center to receive voice and text messages plus pictures and video.

Right now it's technology only a few counties in Northeast Wisconsin have.

The Brown County Dispatch center is one of a few, with Next Generation 9-1-1, which lets people either call or text to communicate with the sheriff's department.

Brown County Director of Public Safety Communications Cullen Peltier said, "The real goal was to have it available for those in need, particularly the deaf and hard of hearing community, and also people that weren't able to make a 911 all because of distress or they wouldn't want to give up their position or things like that. So that's why we put it in place originally."

While it's an option in Brown County, it's not in a majority of others.

However, that's expected to change after a vote this week by the Joint Finance Committee to place 6.7 million dollars in the state budget.

If it's kept in, every county will get the same technology.

"Some of this technology that we're using right now is from the 1980's. That's kind of ridiculous at this point. We've got to start modernizing the system," said Rep. Ron Tusler, a Republican from Harrison.

Another benefit,of the upgrade will assist dispatchers who might not be able to keep up with the call volume during an emergency, like a severe storm.

Peltier said, "Those calls could automatically roll over to the next county's dispatcher, dispatch center and they can actually take the call for us, transmit that information back to us and then we can send our first responders out that way."

Outagamie is among the counties without this technology right now which would benefit if the funding is kept in the state budget.

A vote on the budget is expected next month.