Wood County officials mull possible dispatcher changes

PARKERSBURG — West Virginia State Police is studying consolidating dispatching and local officials are wondering what that means for here.

Maj. Reginald Patterson, chief of staff services with the State Police, said in an e-mailed statement that the agency was reviewing communications services, but not ready to publicly discuss it.

”The West Virginia State Police is in the process of reviewing four of our dispatch centers for consolidation; we are not in a position to publicly discuss any plans because they are not finalized,” he said. ”Furthermore, this consolidation would not involve the closing of any detachment or relocating areas for troopers, only communications services.”

Wood County commissioners, of which the 911 center is under their auspices, said they have been hearing talk around the community about the State Police planning to consolidate dispatchers in Charleston and all calls would be dispatched from there.

”The question is are they eliminating their dispatch positions,” Commission President Blair Couch said. ”The number of calls the State Police responds to in Wood County is only in single-digit percentages.”

Commissioner Jimmy Colombo said the State Police have already consolidated in other parts of the state.

”This is the only area that hasn’t done that,” he said.

Couch said the concern is funds from 911 fees would be allocated to the State Police or all dispatch systems would become more regional and under its control.

Sen. Donna Boley, R-Pleasants, said she just heard about the dispatcher situation last week and has been getting conflicting reports on what is happening or what might happen. She has reached out to Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson, to see if he could provide more detail.

”I would hate to see anyone lose their job,” she said.

State Police respond to many calls in rural counties, such as Wirt County, where smaller sheriff’s departments with few deputies rely on the State Police to be able to handle calls, officials said.

Wood County has a robust local police presence with the sheriff’s department and police departments in Williamstown, Vienna and Parkersburg, Couch said.

Wood County 911 Center director Rick Woodyard said he knows nothing about the situation.

”I haven’t been told anything,” he said.

The 911 Center rarely dispatches for the State Police and only in certain circumstances where they make themselves available, Woodyard said. The State Police has its own dispatch station at the local barracks.

He said the State Police dispatch around 6 percent of the calls in Wood County.