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New York Gov. Hochul announces "parameters of conceptual" budget deal, two weeks after deadline

Albany officials preview new 911 dispatch center

Albany invests in public safety with new 911 dispatch center
Dave Lucas
Mayor Kathy Sheehan and city officials at the under-renovation Albany Police Headquarters on Henry Johnson Blvd.

The city of Albany's new 9-1-1 dispatch center should be up and running by the end of the year.

Police Headquarters on Henry Johnson Boulevard has been gutted to the walls for a $3.5 million dollar total makeover that in a few months will house a hive of cutting-edge technology and equipment, transforming the building into a centrally located open space for receiving emergency calls and dispatching first responders.

Democratic Mayor Kathy Sheehan says the project includes renovating the Office of Professional Standards, with new space for the Traffic Safety Division and a total upgrade of electronics.

"In my 2023 State of the City, I said that we were undertaking this project," Sheehan said. "And we are going to be incorporating not just space that's laid out that's going to meet the needs of our dispatchers, but the newest technology that is required at our dispatch center, and at dispatch centers across the nation. We want to ensure that we provide the highest level of emergency response to our residents and to our visitors. So the new center will be located right here at Albany police headquarters."

Chief Eric Hawkins says an "open spaces" design concept is being employed that will give personnel easy access to one another.

"This building that you see here will soon house a new, modern and efficient emergency communications center where our telecommunications specialists, also known as dispatchers, can perform one of the most important tasks at the Albany police Albany fire departments and that is answering our calls for service," Hawkins said. "When a person calls for police or fire or medical services in the city. The dispatchers are the first person that those people will talk with. And those dispatchers will be the ones gathering information and deploying resources to those persons in need. So our dispatchers are truly the first links in the chain for emergencies in the city. They also control the airwaves and they're responsible for ensuring that our police officers, firefighters, EMS personnel, have the information that they need to effectively manage the situation where it is needed. And this new modern workspace is going to further enhance our emergency telecommunication system by providing an open floor plan."

The room will be outfitted with 10 consoles, staffed with seven to nine people per shift, one of them being a supervisor/co-ordinator who will oversee the operation.

“Spoiler alert: we're going to have to continue to invest more," said Sheehan. "The technology is rapidly changing. And as we look at the technology roadmap for this police department going forward, we are going to need to continue to invest in new technology.”

Sheehan adds the city is systematically replacing its legacy systems with modern platforms.

"There is a need for us to continue to invest in that technology. You know, that's why, if you look at our budget, if you look at our capital plans, planning out over the next five years, you're going to see the need for us to invest in new technology and new platforms. So that we have the most up to date state-of-the-art technology. It's what our residents expect, and it's what we believe is going to help to continue to improve public safety in the city," Sheehan said.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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