Future SD&G 911 calls ‘most likely’ answered in London

SD&G OPP Detachment Commander Marc Hemmerick speaks during a SD&G Police Services Board meeting on Thursday, June 10, 2021. Hemmerick says 911 calls locally will most likely go to London, Ont. but that call efficiency will improve in the long run. (SD&G/Zoom via Newswatch Group)

SD&G – The head of the local OPP detachment says emergency calls within SD&G will “most likely in our case” be answered by dispatchers in London.

SD&G OPP Detachment Commander Marc Hemmerick responded to questions during a police services board meeting Thursday (June 10) about the impending closure of the Smiths Falls communications center.

Hemmerick says the news that Smiths Falls would close within a year affecting roughly 100 employees was “a shock, to say the least.”

He says there is some validity in dispatchers living in the area having familiarity with the region. “There is a certain familiarity that they have come to get with East Region and the municipalities that they police,” the commander said.

But he believes that can still occur wherever dispatchers are in Ontario – even 600 kilometers away in London – especially with the government spending nearly $1 billion to upgrade the multi-agency government radio system and in-cruiser systems that give officers turn-by-turn directions to each call.

“I’m sure that would have something to do with the decommissioning of the Smiths Falls PCC (provincial communications center) and the potential upgrades that would be needed to the PCC.”

Hemmerick says this is a decision that wasn’t taken lightly after weighing “multiple factors.”

“I certainly can say that it will not affect public safety or the officer’s ability to respond to calls for service,” Hemmerick stated.

The phased decommissioning of the Smiths Falls call center will be done by June 2022.