Monday, May 21, 2018
Public safety

Treasure Island's switch to Sheriff's Office dispatch relatively smooth

TREASURE ISLAND — The switch to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office now answering dispatch calls for Treasure Island police is going well, officials said, with only a few glitches.

"We've had two or three hiccups but for the most part it has worked amazingly well, we couldn't be more pleased in how the transition has worked," Treasure Island police Chief Tim Casey said.

Four city dispatchers were transferred to the Sheriff's Office, which took over answering calls July 21. The move, which is expected to save the city $250,000 annually, has had a few blips, said Casey and City Manager Reid Silverboard.

One miscue occurred two weeks ago when a Tampa Bay Times reporter called (727) 547-4595, the number for nonemergency calls, and was told by a sheriff's dispatcher that the Treasure Island Police Department no longer existed.

"That was wrong. That was incorrect," said Maj. Shawn Joel of the Sheriff's Office, when asked about the call.

Casey said the Sheriff's Office is training new people and "some may not have understood" the fact that although dispatch calls are being handled by the Sheriff's Office, Treasure Island has retained its Police Department.

"We are addressing all these issues as they come in," Casey said.

A few Treasure Island residents have complained about unanswered calls, but Casey and Silverboard say in the cases they investigated, these were people who had called a wrong inside number for the police department.

"But the voicemails tell people to call the 547-4595 number," Casey said.

"So far, except for a couple of complaints about calling in to the Police Department and getting an answering machine because they were calling the wrong number, it has gone very smoothly," Silverboard said.

Calls to reach the Treasure Island police administration should be made to (727) 547-4592.

A new Sheriff's Office consolidated communication center is being built in Largo and is expected to be completed and operational by February. The sheriff's dispatch system is being consolidated with the county's 911 system. Five municipalities including Treasure Island are now contracting with the Sheriff's Office for dispatch service.

City police are continuing to process citations, reports and subpoenas and handle calls routed to them by the Sheriff's Office.

A new communications software is now being used by mobile data terminals in police vehicles. Casey said his officers now have a little more to do.

"There is more work from the car than they've been accustomed to but it has been well received," he said.

Joel said the transition has gone "extremely well" due to the hard work of both Treasure Island and Sheriff's Office employees.

The city's website ( mytreasure island.org) has information about the switch and a new round of advertising will occur soon to remind people of the change, Silverboard said.

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