ST. LOUIS – A new plan could allow St. Louis City to consolidate police, fire and EMS dispatch services under one roof.
The services could merge through a Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) center, a proposed venue near the current St. Louis Fire Department headquarters at Jefferson and Cass avenues.
St. Louis Alderman Brandon Bosley recently introduced a proposal (BB120) that would help the PSAP center get one step closer to reality. The bill recommends using around $15 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to help support PSAP costs.
The St. Louis Mayor’s Office says the city has envisioned such a facility since 2008, though funding and time have presented various obstacles. The mayor’s office sent FOX 2 the following statement, in part, on the impact of a PSAP facility:
“The new center will provide call-taking and dispatching services for St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department and the St. Louis Fire Department, including Emergency Medical Services. Dispatchers within the facility will evaluate emergency and non-emergency calls and determine the appropriate level of response for each call, enhancing service and experience for citizens and first respondents, even in extreme conditions.”
City officials are hopeful such changes could improve the city’s 911 system. Activists through Transforming911.org have shared stories on their experiences with the city’s dispatch operations, noting long wait times for service among other concerns. Leaders of Forward Through Ferguson spoke one-on-one with FOX 2 in July to discuss research on violent crime and policing policies, plus how those factors might be linked to the way local 911 calls are handled.
“Mayor [Tishaura] Jones made clear that while fixing it won’t happen overnight, she is dedicated to significantly upgrading our 911 system to improve service and reliability. This is another step towards achieving that goal, and efforts to consolidate dispatchers and reform our bottlenecked system continue,” said the mayor’s office in a statement.
City leaders would also aim to merge City Emergency Management Agency and Citizen Services Bureau of St. Louis under the same roof as 911 dispatchers. Though timetables for the plan have not yet been announced, the city hopes to open the PSAP site by 2026, pending approval of ARPA funds.