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Measure 15-186 vital for emergency communications

The key to effective and rapid response by emergency personnel to your emergency is dependable communications. In Jackson County one communications center dispatches emergency responders for all municipal and county police and fire agencies. This is a result of years of working cooperatively to merge dispatch centers in four cities and a center for the county into the Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon.

All the member agencies from large entities — Medford, Ashland and Jackson County — to smaller areas such as Lake Creek, Butte Falls and Greensprings have worked together to create a professionally operated center. But, they do not have modern radio infrastructure. It is a center that must modernize its radio technology to ensure the safety of emergency responders and the citizens who need emergency services.

As a taxpayer, you may have questions and concerns about this funding request for our emergency communications equipment. ECSO is a unique service run by the member agencies who each have a vote. They work to keep costs down but now It’s time to modernize our local 911 emergency radio system. Please go to https://safejacksoncounty.com for more detailed information.

As a former police officer, I want to share why this proposal is vitally needed for not only emergency responders, but all citizens. Current equipment is antiquated and obsolete. There are parts of the county where communications are not reliable. An unreliable radio system is a serious hazard. I have two examples.

One night when I was at the police station in Talent, a intruder threw a large rock through the door and entered the building. I confronted him but I was unable to reach dispatch to request additional units. It was not as though I was in a remote part of the county. Eventually, as the suspect was detained, I was heard, barely, by another unit and cover officers responded.

Another night, Talent PD went into Ashland to assist their department with a reckless eluding suspect. The radio coverage in that area was not effective and the officers had great difficulty communicating between cars.

A new modern emergency system will prevent these kinds of episodes. These are just two examples. Similar things occur daily. It is a fact that our system is in dire need of an immediate upgrade and overhaul. Our 911 center staff is highly competent and professional, but they need reliable equipment to be able to help you when you need it.

The current system is at extremely high risk of failure and that means emergency response may not be able to promptly and properly assist citizens. If the system fails during just a normal day, it will be bad. If it fails during a county-wide emergency, it will be catastrophic.

Such scenarios are predictable. They are also preventable.

I hope you will join me in making our community safer and support our Emergency Communications of Southern Oregon with a yes vote on Measure 15-186.

Mike Moran retired from the Medford Police Department as a lieutenant after 29 years. He later was chief of police for Talent from 2008 to 2016.