Marla Jones, Managing Editor
FORT PAYNE, Ala. —In the Spring of this year, DeKalb County Sheriff Welden, hosted a meeting with DeKalb County Fire Departments, Rescue Squads, 911, Emergency Management Agency (EMA), Municipal Police Departments, and Elected Officials. Welden outlined problems with Communications, Jail Management, Record Management, Civil Process Management, and other Data Systems in DeKalb County.
Welden was concerned with outdated equipment throughout the County.
“We have made great strides in bolstering up our 1970’s technology. Most of it is no longer serviceable, due to the parts no longer being produced. We pray every day that we don’t get a lightning strike. We have utilized temporary fixes such as; FirstNet as a band-aid and purchased second-hand used equipment in order to provide Law Enforcement, Fire and EMS services to the residents of Dekalb County.”
“The time has come that we are forced to make hard choices. Due to the fact that no money has ever been placed in reserve or budgeted to keep up with technology, we are placed in a very difficult position,” stated Welden. “We have a responsibility to leave the next generation of Emergency Responders with a better system than we have been left with. The strain placed on our outdated system by Covid 19 response has increased the urgency of this project by multiples.”
Motorola Corporation was on hand at the meeting to demonstrate a suite of systems that would drastically increase efficiency, safety, and response time in all areas of response. These systems operate cohesively but independently so that all response agencies have situational awareness of what is happening county-wide but share certain common data such as current addressing information. This system will allow responders to be much more efficient in response time, save the taxpayers money in overtime, and ultimately save lives and protect property; which is the primary function.
Dekalb County EMA Director Anthony Clifton pointed out that grant money is available to assist with these systems. Dekalb County Commission President Ricky Harcrow expressed his full support stating that if agencies will do their part and apply for grants to assist in the cost, the County Commission will find a way to make it happen.
After many months of hard work on the part of all Response Agencies and coordination with the Dekalb County Sheriff’s Office, Sheriff Welden was pleased to announce that Dekalb County has been awarded grants totaling close to half a million dollars toward the purchase of equipment to be utilized with the systems that are so desperately needed to maintain effective operations.
Sheriff Welden stated, “It’s a pleasure and honor working together with our partners toward a common, achievable, and realistic goal. We have the best, most well-trained and dedicated responders in the state and they deserve to have the tools to do the job. We are all one team, with different jobs, working together for one purpose in Dekalb County. That purpose is the well-being and safety of our residents. That’s a purpose worth fighting for and making a priority over all else. With the support of the County Commission, we can achieve these goals and be a true leader in the state. I’m proud to be a part of this team and I’m proud of the hard work all of these Agencies have put into this project holding up their end of the deal.“