Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

Real news for working families.  An online newspaper

Columbia County News

County 911 Communications: Will Lake City continue down the path to becoming an island?

Empty dispatch consoles, paid for with state and federal money were set up for the City's use. As the City tries to make up its mind to commit to a Combined Dispatch Center, they sit empty .

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL –  At 10 am today the 911 Combined Communications Center Working Group met at the call center. Absent from the meeting was any representative from Lake City. The County invited the City to this meeting, as well as to rejoin and participate in the Combined Dispatch Center. The City Council meets at 7 pm this evening. This question is on their agenda.

Columbia County Fire Chief David Boozer explained that he had heard from the City Fire Chief, Frank Armajo before the meeting. "I asked him if he was coming to the meeting. He said they [the City] would not be able to attend until after tonight's [City Council] meeting.

Director Tom Brazil, "The County listened to the City's Consultant."

From the beginning, one of the City consultant's major complaints had been the County did not have an adequate operational policy and training program in place.

Columbia County Sheriff Mark Hunter listens to the conversation during the morning's 911 user group meeting. Over 73% of the Center's calls are for the Sheriff's Office.

After the meeting, the County's 911 Combined Communications Director, Tom Brazil, a retired police captain with 30 years police experience told the Observer, "One of the City's compliants had been the County did not have an adequate operational policy and training program in place. Since I've been here we have an operational policy manual; we have an administrative policy manual; and we have a training manual."

Director Brazil continued, "If Chief Armajo had attended he could have left the meeting with all three manuals."

The issue of governance has also been a major issue with the City.

Mr. Brazil said, "I did not address that issue."

The County, City, and Sheriff have signed an interlocal agreement. Governance would appear to be an issue left to the politicians.

Mr. Brazil, "I believe all the operational items have been addressed."

The Observer asked, "If the City had a change of heart and decided to rejoin the Combined Communications Center and take their place at the consoles, how long would it take to incorporate the changes?"

Mr. Brazil, "I would think we should be close to 60 days if all the parties involved were really committed to doing it."

October 1st is the present deadline for City fire dispatch

City fire is still being dispatched through the center. That is scheduled to end unless the City acts tonight.

If the City goes through with removing its fire dispatch from the Combined Communications Center, both City Fire and Police will be on a ring down system.

County Safety Manager David Kraus told the Observer, "All 911 calls are automatically routed to the Combined Communications Center. Emergency medical calls will be dispatched first. After we get the ambulances rolling we will press a button and transfer the call to the City, if it is a City call. The information will have to be repeated. If the City needs County backup, they will have to call the County back."

When seconds count, it is not clear how the City sees that this makes sense. This may be answered at tonight's City Council meeting.

Sheriff Hunter also weighed in after the meeting

Sheriff Hunter told the Observer. "My sentiment has not changed. I am all about having a Combined Dispatch Center for the entire County. That's just the way I feel about it."

Sheriff Hunter continued, "I would really like to see the City involved. I am willing to meet with them anytime, anyplace, anywhere."

"In the past we were counting on 60 to 90 days to bring them back on. I am willing to make every effort to bring them back on as soon as possible."


Seconds count it comes to 911 Fire, Police, and Emergency Medical Service dispatch. Lake City is becoming an island in the middle of Columbia County. By the end of the evening it will be known if the City is going to change its course, or continue on a path to go it alone.

Comments (to add a comment go here)

This work by the Columbia County Observer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.

Meeting Calendar
No need to be confused - Find links to agendas and where your participation is welcome.

Make a comment • click here •
All comments are displayed at the end of the article and are moderated.