Officials tout Reverse 911 phone system

By Casey Peacock: PNT Staff Writer

Emergency Management Director Keith Thomas Wattenbarger presented information on a Reverse 911 phone system during Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Roosevelt County Commission.

The system would be used by the city of Portales and Roosevelt County.

Initial setup for the system will be just under $30,000 with upgrades available.

After the first year, the cost would drop to around $15,000. A portion of the money for the system would be provided by the city, Wattenbarger said.

Reverse 911, according to its Web site, is a combination of database and geographic information system mapping technologies. With that information, emergency calls can be made to hundreds or thousands of call recipients at once. Call recipients can be notified of emergencies such as natural disasters and hazardous material spills, or non-emergency situations like weather advisories or sex offenders moving into a neighborhood.

“It’s something that really gives us a lot of flexibility,” Wattenbarger said of the system.

People receiving such calls can verify receipt of information and report back if needed. For dispatchers, Wattenbarger said, extra information could make a huge difference in incidents where time is of the essence.

“It allows you this real-time capability to interface with people,” Wattenbarger said.

Calls and responses are recorded for future verification if the need arises, Wattenbarger said.

City and county department heads will have access to the system, which can receive messages via cell phone or computer, Wattenbarger said.

Currently the county has a standard 911 system that is in place, Wattenbarger said.

“There’s a lot of upside to it. It only makes sense to have a system that works for everybody,” Wattenbarger said.

“It’s obviously going to be cost-effective for the county and a good system,” Commissioner Dennis Lopez said.

In other business:

• The commisson approved using the current precincts and polling places for the 2008 year.

• Roosevelt County Treasurer Nancy Belcher reported tax bills have been prepared and will be mailed out beginning next week.

• Roosevelt County Detention Center administrator reported 73 prisoners are in the Roosevelt County Detention Center system. Of the 73, 14 are females and 10 are being housed in Spur, Texas.

• Lopez encouraged fellow commissioners and department heads to attend a New Mexico Department of Transportation meeting Thursday in Hobbs to discuss issues relevant to Roosevelt County.