Lexington opened a new Public Safety Operations Center on Thursday, which will house the city’s 911 dispatchers, emergency operation officials and LexCall operators under the same roof.
The $15 million center on Cisco Road was formerly a city-owned building that sat vacant for nearly a decade. The city had previously purchased land in Coldstream research park on Newtown Pike and had plans to build a new public safety operations center. But Mayor Jim Gray scrapped those plans because the cost to build a new center was too high.
Gray said at a ribbon-cutting for the new building on Thursday the city saved nearly $23 million by renovating and gutting the 32,800-square-foot building located off of Versailles Road.
State and federal agencies provided about $5.5 million of the $15 million total costs, Gray said.
“We’ve invested in the newest technology, the very latest,” Gray said. “That technology will improve our service when people call 9-1-1 in an emergency and when they call LexCall 3-1-1 to connect with city services. It will improve our ability to respond to community emergencies, for example, a paralyzing ice storm or tornado.”
But Thursday’s ribbon-cutting — attended by many city officials and Kentucky Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett — was also a celebration of bringing all of the city’s police and fire communications into one location.
Until this week, police dispatchers operated out of the city’s police department. Fire dispatchers were housed at the fire department.
That created problems. Sometimes calls for fire would come to police and vice versa, said Public Safety Commissioner Ronnie Bastin, who oversees police, fire, 911 and corrections.
Bastin said having all dispatchers under one roof will mean faster response times and ensure police and fire have all the information they need to respond to a call.
In addition, the city’s emergency management department is also housed in the Public Safety Operations Center. That means all emergency management responses can be coordinated out of one central location. The city’s LexCall operators are also at Cisco Road. LexCall operators, the city’s 311 system, answer calls regarding city services and non-emergency calls.
LexCall receives between 800 to 1,000 calls per day. The city’s 911 call center receives 1,700 calls per day.
“This facility is equipped to answer all of those calls, assess all of those needs and get help where it needs to go quickly and efficiently,” Bastin said Thursday.
Councilwoman Peggy Henson, whose district includes the new Public Safety Operations Center, said the former juvenile detention facility sat empty for nearly a decade and became a blight to the neighborhood. The city’s investment in the building will also help the neighborhood.
“This is also very important to this neighborhood,” Henson said.