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911 merger needs to be closely studied

Grafton Police Chief Jeff Leach says he has some serious misgivings about the possibility of Taylor County 911 calls being answered by Harrison County dispatchers.

Leach is right to be wary.

But we hope caution won't scuttle what we believe might be a positive move for Taylor and Harrison counties.

West Virginia is a very rural state, with some "addresses" little more than "up beyond the yellow trailer down the lane." Leach is worried Harrison County 911 dispatchers might not be familiar enough with some of those places in Taylor County. And he's also wondering whether the volume of additional calls might be too much.

Those are salient points, and we hope officials study the issue very carefully before acting.

That said, there are definite benefits to combining 911 services.

Foremost, of course, are financial benefits. Such a service probably would be a plus for both counties.

Other options might not be all that palatable, anyway.

We agree with Taylor Sheriff Clark Sinclair, who says it's important to keep central dispatching, even if it is from Harrison County.

Going back to the old days of trying to figure out which seven-digit number to call in an emergency isn't appealing; that extra time could cost lives or property damage.

We're not ready to say for sure a combined 911 operation would be a plus for Harrison or Taylor. But it certainly sounds intriguing. We'll be watching. And we hope you will, too, during the public hearings planned in both counties. (Watch for dates of those hearings in our newspaper once they're announced).

Today's editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which is comprised of James G. Logue, Kevin S. Courtney, Patrick M. Martin, Matt Harvey, Nora Edinger and J. Cecil Jarvis.

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