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Murrysville's switch to county dispatch goes smoothly

| Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, 11:23 p.m.

Two weeks after Westmoreland County emergency dispatchers began fielding Murrysville's police calls, county and municipal officials agree the switch went smoothly.

“It was such a transparent change. The officers, from what I'm hearing, are very happy with the change. They didn't miss a beat,” said Dan Stevens, spokesman for Westmoreland County Emergency Management. “Everything is just going as it was in the past.”

Now, when Murrysville residents place an emergency call, they speak to a county dispatcher, rather than a dispatcher at the municipal police department along Sardis Road.

Murrysville police Chief Tom Seefeld asked residents to dial 911 in emergencies. However, if they call the police department's local number — 724-327-2111 — within the next six months, the call will be forwarded to 911, he said.

Non-emergency calls, such as those seeking copies of a police report or directions, should be directed to the police department's administrative assistants at 724-327-2100, ext. 200, he said. Those calls will be fielded from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. weekdays until Jan. 2, when the hours will be expanded to 6 a.m. until midnight.

Since the Dec. 2 transition, the changeover has gone “very well,” Seefeld said. “(We're) still in a settling-in period.”

Murrysville police advised county officials of the municipality's procedures and how it handles calls.

“No big deal, and they've been extremely receptive,” Seefeld said.

Joining the 911 system was free.

Police updated decals on department cruisers with the new phone number, added a call box outside the department to connect to 911 and updated building security systems.

Two of Murrysville's five in-house dispatchers have retired, and three are serving as police office assistants.

Additional staff members are being hired at the county dispatch center in Hempfield, but those additions are not directly related to Murrysville joining the center, Stevens said.

“It's a little more work for our people here, but it's the nature of the beast,” he said. “We're happy that Murrysville came on and had the confidence in Westmoreland County.”

Throughout the discussion of the switch, Seefeld said the county center is “above us in technology and equipment. … We can't keep up with that.”

Seefeld said police have not heard feedback from the public about the transition, and he urged residents with concerns or questions to call him.

Two municipalities in the county — North Huntingdon and Greensburg — continue to dispatch in-house. Greensburg fields call for the city as well as South Greensburg and Southwest Greensburg.

Rossilynne Skena Culgan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or rskena@tribweb.com.

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