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FARMERS BRANCH Four cities in North Texas are working toward combining 911 dispatch centers, a move intended to reduce response time for emergency personnel and to save money in the long run.

According to Farmers Branch police Chief Sid Fuller, Farmers Branch, Addison, Coppell and Carrollton have shared public safety resources for the past five years everything from training to personnel. What they haven't shared is a dispatch center.

Fuller said four independent dispatch centers can lead to delayed response times in certain situations.

'With the combined center, they're all sitting in the same room, so it will be seamless,' Chief Fuller said.

For example: Currently, if a call comes in from the northern border of Farmers Branch, that call is assigned to a Farmers Branch police officer, even if that officer is across the city. In a unified system, that call would go to a closer officer in Carrollton.

'This is going to be a well-staffed, well-funded, well-equipped center, and the processing of the calls should be quicker,' Fuller said. 'And the interoperability of sharing resources with other cities will be, like I said, seamless.'

The newly-created North Texas Emergency Communications Center announced it will be located in the 1600 block of West Frankford Road in Carrollton.

According to Farmers Branch City Manager Gary Greer, radio equipment alone costs $30 million, and the price tag on everything else is still being calculated. Greer predicts that combining the centers will save their city alone 15 to 20 percent in the public safety budget over 20 years.

A savings in cash, but more importantly the move will shave valuable seconds off the time it takes for help to arrive, Greer said.

'Literally all the [first response] assets that are in play at the time will come to bare, and the closest assets will come to that occasion much quicker than we could have otherwise,' he said.

E-mail srobertson@wfaa.com

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