Interim director named for Dispatch Center

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By Erin L. McCoy

The Nelson County E-911 Dispatch Board named Joe Mattingly interim director for the Nelson County Dispatch Center at its May 11 meeting. Milt Spalding, who has served as the center’s day-to-day operations manager for about a month, was named interim assistant director.

Mattingly has been employed by the board as a dispatch consultant for almost four weeks, and delivered his final report Wednesday. The report cites the need for a strictly enforced chain of command, upgrades to some computer systems, and regular meetings between the interim director and board committees, as well as between dispatchers and administrators. It also emphasizes a focus on professionalism in the dispatch office, which includes cutting down on noise and on profanity or inappropriate language.

“As a consultant I can definitely see the need for an interim director,” Mattingly told the dispatch board. The recommendation came before the board decided to name Mattingly to the position.

Such a director — along with a possible assistant director or co-director — should conduct weekly meetings with board committees, he said.

“That would eliminate, I believe, a lot of conversations that come to the board meetings,” he said.

While Spalding has been handling day-to-day operations at the center, it has not had a director for more than a month. Personnel concerns were directed at board Chair Fred DeWitt or other board members during that time.

DeWitt agreed an interim director could go a long way toward creating a chain of command.

“That puts a little authority in the dispatch center. Right now, all the authority is outside the dispatch center,” he said.

Appointing shift directors could also improve the chain of command, Mattingly said.

He also expressed concern that some personnel matters had been dealt with where other dispatchers could overhear them.

“I think it’s very important that if there’s an issue with a specific call taker, then that needs to be taken into the director’s office,” Mattingly said.

Meanwhile, Mattingly placed an emphasis on professionalism.

“A (conscious) effort should be made to eliminate the use of profanity or other offensive language,” the report states. The noise level should also be reduced.

“There are times when the background noise gets elevated and they need some direction to keep the levels down,” Mattingly said.

 Weekly meetings to inform dispatchers of changes or updates in procedure should also improve the work environment, he said.

“I think that keeps a lot of the animosity going there, when one dispatcher hears something before the other,” Mattingly told the board.

A schedule for in-house training and cross-training, as well as annual refresher courses, was also recommended, along with rotating personnel for observation and training.

The report also recommends the board meet with representatives from MapSync and InterAct Public Safety to discuss updates to calling and mapping systems within the center. Meanwhile, a centrally located television devoted specifically to weather updates would “allow dispatchers to be alert and aware of accurate and up-to-date weather related situations,” according to the report.

Mattingly, accompanied by DeWitt and board member Joe Prewitt, visited dispatch centers in Washington and Bullitt counties during his time as consultant, and said many of the changes at Nelson County’s dispatch could be modeled on these high-functioning centers.

Board member and Bardstown Police Chief Rick McCubbin said action should be taken quickly to appoint an interim director.

“I think something immediate — as in, a minute ago — would be good,” McCubbin said. “It’s kind of unfair for the dispatchers. If there’s an issue they don’t know who to go to.”

After an hour-long executive session, the board voted Mattingly and Spalding into their new roles. 

In other news:

• The board voted to keep a dress code policy adopted a few weeks ago after a discussion about whether jeans would be appropriate attire for a dispatcher. A provision that they should wear shoes of a dark, solid color was added to a rule requiring black, navy or khaki casual dress slacks. Dispatchers are also required to wear uniform shirts, which were recently ordered.

• Because the dispatch center is without a personnel policy, the board considered adopting the Bardstown city personnel policy to apply to the center. However, it finally voted to table a motion for adoption so that it would have time to consider revisions to the policy.

• The Spillman server, on which dispatch logs and other information are saved, has been moved from the Bardstown Police Department to the dispatch center to allow center administrators easier access to the server.

• The board approved granting Spillman server access to Gary Holt of Holt Computers in Bloomfield, who has been addressing problems with the server’s backup battery along with compatibility issues and needed updates. The backup battery has been replaced, which should prevent future shut-downs of the server.

• The dispatch board approved the purchase of a $169, 3-terrabyte external hard drive on which to save dispatch data.

• The next meeting of the dispatch board will be 4 p.m. May 18 at the Nelson County Sheriff’s Department.