Scott County 911 Dispatch Center future still unknown

Right now, 911 services for Scott County are handled by the Sheriff’s Office, the Sikeston Department of Public Safety and the Scott City Police Department.
Published: Feb. 20, 2023 at 7:55 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 20, 2023 at 10:18 PM CST
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SCOTT COUNTY, Mo. (KFVS) - Scott County’s new presiding commissioner says he wants residents to hear the whole story regarding possible plans to consolidate the county’s 911 services.

Last week, Scott County Sheriff Wes Drury expressed concern about county leaders possibly consolidating the 911 dispatch center out of the sheriff’s office.

Drury called it a cost-cutting move that could impact public safety, but Commissioner Danny Tetley says their goal is not just to save money, it’s to improve emergency services.

”I called 911 and the phone rang for 49 seconds without ever being answered,” said Danny Tetley.

Tetley recalled the moment his wife had a bad wreck late last year.

He said this prompted him to start asking questions about the county’s 911 service.

“That happened three days before I took office, that was clearly a public safety problem,” Tetley said. “And it lead me to start getting involved about seeing consolidating the 911 services.”

Right now, 911 services for Scott County are handled by the Sheriff’s Office, the Sikeston Department of Public Safety and the Scott City Police Department.

The future of the Scott County Sheriff's Office.

Tetley said consolidation talks included the Commission asking Scott City leaders to draw up a consolidation plan, not the other way around.

”Nothing has been set in stone yet, nothing’s been done we are still a long way from making that happen, we are just in discussion about that right now,” Tetley said.

Larry Chasteen leads the county’s 911 Emergency Services Board.

“Our plans are to improve 911 and have a higher trained dispatchers--have better equipment,” Chasteen said.

I asked both Tetley and Chasteen about concerns that a consolidation could cost some dispatchers their jobs.

“I still believe you’re still going to have the same amount of dispatchers. The savings come in forms of equipment, technology, telephone lines and data lines and stuff that each county has to pay for,” Chasteen said. “So you’re still going to need those dispatchers for the amount of 911 calls that we have in our county, so I believe there will be plenty of room for people to have jobs.”

“The majority of our 911 employees would be retained by the new business, the new entity that’s going to conduct our new 911 business, as long as they meet the criteria and have all the proper training,” Tetley said.

Tetley said taking over as Presiding Commissioner is a huge challenge, but said he’s up to the task.

“I’ve been in business with myself for 22 years,” Tetley said. “I was raised on a family farm, I have extremely close ties to the entire county--I am up to the task of doing this--but what I don’t like is people assuming things without just coming to the commissioners meeting and discussing them with us.”

Tetley wanted to make it clear he has a good relationship with Sheriff Wes Drury, and his main goal is to properly address the needs of his county.

Commissioner Tetley also adds they’re getting bids right now to renovate the sheriff’s office into additional court space, as well as bids to build a whole new judicial building. He says he’s not comfortable with moving the sheriff out of his building until a final decision is made.