Craighead County 911 System Makes Switch to Digital Today

NOVEMBER 15, 2006 -- POSTED AT 9:00 P.M. CDT, updated at 7:29 a.m. on 11/16

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR -- Thirty-seven years ago, Craighead County was the first county in Arkansas to have a 911 system. Now, the county continues to set the bar around the state as it make a complete switch to a digital response system.

Jeff Presley has worked in the 911 Dispatch Center for 14 years now. He says it will make their job much easier.

"It's going to mean better service as far as having an officer knowing where he's going. He can talk with dispatch clearly and understand directions," says Presley.

The new digital radio network was completely funded through federal grant money and is said to make big improvements to the response system, including the range of coverage and the clarity of each call.

"Before you may have some of them on one channel and some of them may have to call in for directions. Now, if we have an information page, we can actually assign to the county wide radio channel and send it to everybody," says Presley.

Presley says a clearer call means better service to anyone needing help in an emergency.

"If you have an officer on a stop out there and he has suspects that may run, we need to know what's going on there, if they run and if they have weapons. It's very important for officer safety and public safety," says Presley.

David Moore is the Emergency Management Coordinator for Craighead County. He says the switch to digital has been a work in progress for 2 years now, but it's all about to pay off and make a big difference for Craighead County.

"Their response is going to be a lot more assured because they'll have such a good communication system that it will be beneficial to everybody in the county," says David Moore.

Thursday morning at 7:30 the city and county police and fire units, along with the 911 Dispatch Center here will be completely switched over to a digital network, making Craighead County a safer place all around.

Craighead County is one of three counties in Arkansas selected as pilot counties for the statewide switch to the digital response system. The two other counties are Lonoke County in central Arkansas and Miller County in the southwest part of the state.