Council: Don’t close communication centersPublished 1:10am Wednesday, April 24, 2013
With no discussion, Washington’s City Council on Monday unanimously adopted a resolution opposing Gov. Pat McCrory’s proposal to close three N.C. State Highway Patrol communication centers and consolidate their operations with the remaining communication centers. Among the communication centers targeted for closure is the one in Williamston.
Mayor Pro Tempore Bobby Roberson made the motion to approve the resolution. Councilman Edward Moultrie seconded the motion.
Before the motion was made and vote taken, City Manager Josh Kay informed the council and mayor about the nature of the resolution.
“You have a resolution concerning the closing of the North Carolina Highway Patrol communication center. The Williamston Highway Patrol communication Troop A currently is in the governor’s budget as well as working its way through the state General Assembly to close that. This resolution opposes that measure, and it is offered for your consideration,” Kay said.
Closing the Williamston center would result in most of its employees being terminated, according to memorandum Kay sent to the mayor and council members before Monday’s meeting.
“This resolution requests that our State legislators maintain Troop A Communications in Williamston as well as centers in Asheville and Greensboro in order to preserve this valuable local resource in and around our community,” Kay wrote in the memorandum.
The resolution notes that the Williamston center handles about 600 calls a day as it serves 180 troopers who cover 20 counties, many of them along the North Carolina coast. It also notes the Williamston center has been remodeled and upgraded to house the latest telecommunications technology and equipment.
The resolution notes the center is a “key employment center for our neighboring county” and “there is a concern that lives will be lost, due to delayed response time caused by operators in a
communication center centralized in Raleigh becoming overloaded and being unfamiliar with the area.”
Asked last week about how the closings and consolidations may affect response times by troopers, Pam Walker, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety, said, “No, we don not any impact on response times.”
Walker addressed the proposed closings.
“This is in the governor’s budget, and out department support’s the governor’s budget,” Walker said Friday. “There were some difficult decisions that had to be made, but it was about efficiencies. This was just a decision that was made. … It was about being able to efficiently run operations, and technology has enabled us to make some decisions that allow us to operate more efficiently.”