Dispatch center shows off makeover; new radios are coming

Staff Writer
Brownwood Bulletin
Dispatcher Charity Graves takes a call from a citizen while working in the City of Brownwood's dispatch center.

The City of Brownwood’s 9-1-1 dispatch center has received a makeover.

While the makeover so far has consisted of morale-boosting aesthetics — in the form of new carpet and new, modern consoles at the dispatchers’ work stations — new radios that will be installed next year will complete the upgrade.

A small group of visitors joined dispatchers and representatives of the city, the police department and the West Texas Council of Governments for a brief, informal celebration Thursday morning as the dispatch center — housed in the Law Enforcement Center — showed off its new look.

“The Brownwood PD Dispatch center has received new furniture and we have moved back into position,” Assistant Brownwood Police Chief James Fuller said via email. “Our radios are the old ones, of course, but the furniture and carpet are a project in itself that was close to $80,000. The carpet was a city project and the furniture is a Council of Government 911 grant.”

For the monthlong makeover, the dispatch center had relocated to the nearby space that was formerly occupied by the Emergency Operations Center and moved back to its home just this past week.

The dispatch center, which is broken up into three shifts consisting of five dispatchers per shift — for a total of 16 on the staff, including communications manager Deedra Molotsky — has the capability of receiving and responding to 9-1-1 text messages.

“Call if you can, text if you can’t,” Council of Governments representative Patti Davis said. “It works just like regular texting, where you can go back and forth.”

Molotsky said she was at one time skeptical that citizens would actually use the 9-1-1 text system.

“I know the chief spoke about it on the radio,” Molotsky said. “The more people know it exists, the more (texts) we receive. It’s been beneficial to (citizens) and us. We’ve taken several text-to-9-1-1 calls that were actual emergencies.”

Molotsky described an incident in which a woman texted 9-1-1 to report a runaway was nearby. The woman texted rather than calling so she wouldn’t tip off the runaway, Molotsky said.

“We were able to go get him and return him home,” Molotsky said of the runaway.

Molotsky credited three dispatchers — Aaron McNeely, Charity Graves and Jhnna Acosta — with being instrumental in the monthlong makeover of the dispatch center.

“We had to dismantle the old equipment,” Molotsky said. “The old furniture donate to Eastland County. “We had electricians, we had carpet people, we had IT … it was quite chaotic. The city of Early paid for painting and we have a wonderful dispatcher that does a lot of the artwork. So it all kind of came together.”

The new radios that will be installed will be part of a countywide communications upgrade that will benefit dispatchers and first responders in the county.

“I think the radios are really going to seal everything because we have a hard time talking … especially the deputies in the county,” Molotsky said. “There are dead spots where you can’t really hear them, and this new radio system’s going to alleviate that.

“So we’ll be able to hear them pretty much anywhere, even inside Walmart. That seems silly, but inside Walmart the officers can’t get out. You can’t hear them on the radio. So that’s going to take care of all that.”

Dispatchers show visitors the capabilities of the text-to-9-1-1 system.