911 upgrade for county now complete

Above, Carroll County Sheriff Ryan Kloepping, right, and Lanark Police Chief and 911 Board Chairman Matt Magill stand in the remodeled Carroll County 911 Dispatch Center located in the sheriff’s office at the courthouse. The $250,000 project completed a major software and facility remodeling and upgrade. 911 dispatchers at their stations are Kayla Russell, left, and Cindy Sisler.

State-of-the-art technology is now being used at the Carroll County 911 Dispatch Center located in the sheriff’s office at the Carroll County Courthouse after completion of a months-long major software and facility remodeling and upgrade.

A new configuration of equipment and furniture will make it easier for the dispatchers to perform their responsibilities. The dispatch center, which has three operator stations, providews service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with two dispatchers working each shift, possibly three in the case of major emergencies.

The dispatch center now features eight monitors — previously there were six — along with a large electronic map of Carroll County on the office’s north wall tracking all emergency vehicles in real time.

Sheriff Ryan Kloepping and 911 Board Chairman Matt Magill said the new equipment is “leaps and bounds” beyond what has been used in the past, noting the last major equipment upgrade was 16 years ago in 2006. It will greatly improve the immediacy of 911 services offered to the public, the two officials said.

Total cost for the 911 dispatch center upgrade is $250,000, with funding coming from the 911 telephone surcharge. Magill said the surcharge funds have already been received and accumulated until there was enough to pay for the renovation without having to borrow or levy a higher surcharge, a method the local 911 board has used for all of its projects. A technology upgrade grant also provided funds for the new project.

Magill said five years of surcharges were accumulated before Carroll County’s first 911 system went on line, adding, “We never had to bond.”

Dispatchers handle a wide variety of activity, ranging from dispatching all Carroll County deputies, all seven police departments in the county, all prisoner intake and access to inmates, all ambulance and fire department emergency calls along with walk-in traffic at the sheriff’s office.

Magill and Kloepping said Carroll County’s 911 dispatch center handled 8,000 calls in 2021. Full-time dispatchers include Cindy Sisler, Stephanie Brown, Tori Schoenhaar, Kayla Russell, Michelle Barnes, Amy Hubble, Kim Oellerich and Klarissa Truemper. Rebecca Ritchie is a part-time dispatcher.

Kloepping and Magill noted that a number of counties in this part of the state are utilizing identical equipment for their 911 dispatch centers, which is beneficial to everyone in the event a system experiences operating problems in one of the counties.

Magill also pointed out that if a major disaster, such as a tornado, would cause extensive damage to one of the region’s 911 centers, that county could operate from another county’s systems during the interruption.