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Horizon City Police Department could expand 911 dispatch services

By: Stacey Welsh
HORIZON CITY, Texas -- The Horizon City Police Department could handle all emergency calls and add 911 dispatchers thanks to an agreement with the county.

The department started its 24-hour dispatch service a few months ago to handle police calls. Now, police are working with the city to expand the service to include fires and other emergencies the El Paso County Emergency Services District previously handled.

"We want to make sure that we're responding like we should be and that people can have an assurance that there's some local representation for public safety out here," Horizon City Police Chief Mike McConnell said.

McConnell said his department would hire two new dispatchers to accommodate the change. He said police could receive about 2,000 911 calls a month.

"The fire department was looking for a way to satisfy its needs to get dispatching, which they don't presently have. This is going to satisfy that need," McConnell said.

The Police Department would also update its 911 dispatch computer system to handle new calls like fire emergencies.

"I think it does help the overall safety by providing a localized service in that we get to know our community a little better," McConnell said.

"Now that we have so many more people, I think it's really necessary to maybe speed up the response time," Horizon City resident Vickie Newkirk said.

McConnell said the change would cost the city about $17,000 a year and the county would contribute about $52,000.

The Horizon City City Council is expected to vote on the 911 system update Tuesday. If it's approved, the Police Department will begin hiring new dispatchers.

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