911 dispatchers to track domestic abuse cases

Published 12:59 pm Thursday, April 1, 2010

Warren County will comply with a mandate to improve domestic abuse case records by tasking emergency dispatch staff with the new duty, E-911 Center Director Jason Tatum said Wednesday.

The requirement, initiated by the Legislature in 2007 and developed by the Attorney General’s Office, involves an online database of every protection order issued in Mississippi so domestic violence offenses can be tracked across jurisdictions and also filed in a national criminal database.

The goal is to provide law enforcement officers everywhere with the histories of any people they encounter when they respond to domestic cases.

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Here, Tatum said, compliance will involve about eight data entries per month. “I don’t see it being a problem,” Tatum said. “I don’t foresee having to hire anybody.”

The compliance deadline was December 2009, but many counties have lagged because they had not decided which law enforcement agency should maintain the registry.

The center’s budget allows for 17 dispatchers and three administrative positions. In February, Tatum was named director out of six applicants, becoming the center’s fifth director in seven years. Commissioners convened two meetings to approve Tatum, then forewent a formal vote during a meeting held Feb. 24. Tatum started work March 1.

Actions taken by the seven-member commission Wednesday included paying a $3,700 maintenance contract with ADSI for a records management system used by the Vicksburg police and fire departments. Signed at the start of the center’s multimillion-dollar equipment upgrade, the pact was not included in the city’s budget for this year, said Mayor Paul Winfield, who recommended the panel pay it and invoice the city.

Also on Wednesday, commissioners planned a community awareness campaign involving dispatchers volunteering their time at Riverfest on April 16 and 17 and approved a change in uniform policy to navy khaki pants, replacing the current black.

The center operates on about $1.3 million annually, a figure that has risen since voters approved centralized dispatch in 1989. Salaries for secretaries, the deputy director and director — which account for roughly $500,000 of the annual budget — are paid for via surcharges added to home and cell phone bills. The balance comes from city and county general funds.