MORGANZA —The Pointe Coupee Parish 911 system is set to take what officials describe as a “quantum leap” into the future, thanks to a $300,000 upgrade that will allow operators to pinpoint call locations from cellphones.
The upgrade comes at a time when the Pointe Coupee Parish Police Jury is launching a monthlong community campaign urging residents to post proper address labels on their homes and businesses.
Parish officials said Thursday funding for the 911 system upgrade came from the state following two years of lobbying.
“In the past, our system didn’t have a (global positioning system), so when folks called in from cellphones, we were unable to track their locations, so we had to rely on them to tell us where they were, which was difficult sometimes for people who didn’t know the area,” Sheriff Bud Torres said Thursday at the 911 center. “Now, when we receive a call from a cellphone, the system is going to give us the GPS coordinates of where the call is coming from.”
Officials expect the system to be ready to go by Friday.
In January, the Police Jury adopted a state-of-emergency declaration to speed up the allocation of state funding it needed to upgrade the system.
At the time, the 911 system’s software had malfunctioned and stopped dispatchers from answering multiple calls in a timely manner.
Juror Cornell Dukes, who also serves as chairman of the parish’s 911 Commission, said the parish now has a top-notch service for residents, despite financial struggles the commission has worked through in the past two years.
“911 is one of the most important numerical sequences people know,” he said at the news conference.
Parish leaders are now focusing on a campaign advising residents to post numerical addresses to their homes and businesses.
The Label Up For E-911 campaign is the parish’s response to a spring 2014 LSU survey that indicated more than 13,000 — approximately 40 percent — of the homes and businesses in the parish did not have outside address signs to help guide first responders in emergencies.
In conjunction with the campaign, the Police Jury recently amended the 911 address ordinance to now require residents to label their homes and businesses with 4-inch letters/numbers.
If a home or business is more than 200 feet from a road, the owners must place the address label next to the road, according to the ordinance.
Those who don’t will now be issued $50 citations.
“If an emergency call comes in and there’s no label on the home, 911 doesn’t know how to get first responders to their locations,” Police Jury President Melanie Bueche said.
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