The City of Puyallup’s change of heart on participating in the South Sound 911 agency is a welcome turn of events.
For one thing, it reflects the will of Puyallup voters. They supported a countywide sales tax increase in November 2011 to fund the new agency, and they’re paying for a system they’re currently not part of. But it also acknowledges that being part of the larger regional radio system makes practical sense.
The Puyallup City Council could vote on a memorandum of understanding later this month. The South Sound 911 policy board would then have to approve that agreement.
Having the county’s third largest city on board would make the South Sound 911 a more effective agency than having Puyallup’s emergency dispatch on a completely separate system, one that also serves the Bonney Lake and Sumner police departments. And it’s possible that Puyallup’s new dispatch center – which is scheduled to open later this month – could be used as one of South Sound 911’s dispatch centers.
It never made much sense for Puyallup, Bonney Lake and Sumner to be on a separate system than the one used by the county and its two largest cities, Tacoma and Lakewood.
Having a seamless system is important because crimes often span several jurisdictions. A classic example is a police pursuit that can start in one city and continue through others as well as unincorporated areas. Having everyone on the same radio system talking to each other with the same technology can make all the difference.
Much of the progress made between Puyallup and South Sound 911 appears to be the result of good communication in recent months between City Manager Bill McDonald and Andrew Neiditz, former Lakewood city manager and now executive director of South Sound 911.
Now it’s up to the policy setters at the Puyallup City Council and the South Sound 911 board to all get on the same page. That would make the region a safer place for the public and first responders – and would be the wisest use of taxpayer money.