Units from the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office recently started helping the Columbus Police Department respond to 911 calls in the city.
The effort started on Sept. 30 to help ease the volume of 911 calls coming in, according to Major Joe McCrea of the sheriff’s office. Currently, units from the sheriff’s office will help respond to calls all day, every day in the “A” sector in the north end of Columbus.
While not sure on the exact boundaries, Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson said some of that sector includes Manchester Expressway going north.
“(The units) are really going wherever they’re needed,” McCrea said. “As the 911 lines get busy and there’s gaps in coverage, the units go to those areas.”
Two cars per shift will be available to help respond to calls, according to Assistant Police Chief Gil Slouchick.
The idea for the sheriff’s office to assist CPD was something that came up only in the last few weeks. Henderson said he had a conversation with multiple people in both the sheriff’s office and the police department about this effort.
“I think the current plan is to leave them in the north sector, where they are going every day. We have a limited number of resources so I don’t know if the units will expand,” McCrea said.
In August, the department held a hiring event with the Goodwill Industries of the Southern Rivers Inc. in an effort to fill more than 90 vacancies in the department. Vacancies included police officer positions, as well as 911 dispatchers.
The department had more than 100 applicants thanks to the job fair, but the vetting process takes time, and then recruits must go through the police academy before hitting the streets, Henderson said. The police department and the sheriff’s office are looking at software that will help speed up this process, but for now he’s glad the two departments are working together.
“Bottom line is that we’re short on officers right now,” Henderson said. “The sheriff’s office stepped up to make sure that there are no gaps in coverage and we’re fortunate to have two departments work so well together.”