The City of Guadalupe may soon run its emergency communication services through the new Santa Maria Centralized Dispatch Center.
On Tuesday night, Santa Maria City Council will vote on a proposal to accept a contract with Guadalupe for dispatch services.
The new Santa Maria dispatch center debuted last year at the police department’s Betteravia Road location and is especially equipped to handle emergency communication services for multiple agencies.
“Santa Maria City has invested a huge amount of money for the latest technology in their communication system,” said Guadalupe Public Safety Director Gary Hoving. “This gets us to the next level at the soonest that we possibly can and we’re excited about the change.”
Currently, Guadalupe already contracts out its radio dispatch services and 9-1-1 emergency calls to the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
Hoving praised the long-standing relationship with the Sheriff’s Office, but said it uses an aging dispatch system that sometimes creates issues.
“The County is working on their system, but it’s going to be a while until they are online,” Hoving said. “We have short comings in the existing infrastructure, and with that, we have lapses in communication where our radios will go down, so we had to get an improvement to the quality of the reception and the quickest way to do it was partner with Santa Maria.”
Hoving added partnering with the Santa Maria Police Department strengthens the close bonds between the two North County neighbors.
“There’s a real familiarity between Guadalupe and Santa Maria as far as we share the same clients, we share the same victims, going back and forth between the two communities, so it’s kind of a plus for everybody involved,” said Hoving. “We work very close together and the ties are becoming closer and closer as both communities spread and we’re coming together in that sense.”
Hoving said the changes will essentially be invisible to the public, but will give emergency services enhanced communication, which in turn, will provide better service for the city.
“If you call 9-1-1, you will get a Guadalupe Police officer responding to your call and that’s the same as its been for many years, but what you will see behind the scenes is our communication will be sharp and crisp. The the quality of reception will be superb,” Hoving said.
One feature the public will notice is a new non-emergency number that will available 24 hours a day.
Hoving said calls that currently come in after business hours go to a voice mail and may not be heard for several hours.
He added that many times people will call 9-1-1 instead of leaving a message, even if they are calling during a non-emergency situation.
With the new agreement, calls made during the evening and early morning hours will instead be answered by a live dispatcher.
“After business hours, our phone line will roll over to Santa Maria dispatch and they will triage the calls and see if it warrants an officer being dispatched or not, so that will be an enhancement to the system from where we are at today,” said Hoving.
The agreement between Guadalupe and Santa Maria will be for seven years. Guadalupe will pay Santa Maria $73,611 per year, which is roughly the same amount the city currently pays the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
Hoving added Guadalupe will have to absorb some initial start-up costs by moving services to Santa Maria dispatch.
“We have to buy the radio equipment over the course of the contract,” said Hoving. “The radio equipment is significantly higher than what we use today, but with that, it helps ups attain that higher level of communication.”
Should the agreement between the two cities be approved, dispatch for Guadalupe could begin as soon as November or December.