Bangor City Council to Vote on 911 Calls 

Wayne Harvey

Tonight the Bangor City Council will meet for the third time to talk about transferring the city’s public safety answering services to Penobscot County Regional Communications Center.The last time their vote was tied at 4-to-4..With one councilor missing.The city is already paying the county for the service, but doesn’t use it.Even if councilors vote for the switch, it won’t save the city any money…When the phone rings at the Penobscot Regional Communications Center, it could be from anywhere in Penobscot or Aroostook counties, except for the University of Maine or the City of Bangor.That may be changing as Bangor considers handing over The Public Safety Answer Point, or PSAP.”The ideal situation anyone will tell you will be if you do both, if you got a 911 call that comes in and you’re dispatching for that agency, certainly the ideal situation would be to take the call and then dispatch the call,” said Penobscot Regional Communcations Executive Director Jim Ryan.And Bangor’s Chief of Police Ron Gastia has very strong feelings on the subject “I am adamant, very adamant that Bangor should retain its own dispatch center having the PSAP go to the county doesn’t effect us negatively in any real form”All the calls will still end up with Bangor dispatch, so there won’t be any personnel changes, according to Chief Gastia.”We’ll still get the same number of calls, they’ll just be forwarded. The first call will go to the county then they would be forwarded to us, so we will not be losing any of those calls, which means we need to retain the same number of dispatchers to handle the call volume so there is not cost savings as far as employees are concerned.”It will cut down on training time for dispatchers and liability for the City of Bangor.As for the Penobscot Regional Communication Center, Ryan says it will bring more people into the mix.”That’s going to require me to have a minimum of four more people and there is going to be a cost factor involved in order for us to pick up and do that workload.”For citizens dialing 911, Chief Gastia thinks most won’t recognize much of a difference.”Will there be a change for the people in Bangor? A little one. They may have to speak to two different people but again typically in a matter of seconds they’d be speaking with one person and then be shifted over to us.”