A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Work underway to bring Lexington public safety operations together under one roof


No shovels or dirt were necessary today, but Lexington officials “broke ground” on a new Public Safety Operations Center at the former juvenile detention center on Cisco Road.
 

“The Public Safety Operations Center will bring three city divisions that communicate directly with citizens daily and during emergencies – the divisions of Emergency Management, Enhanced 911 and LexCall – under one roof,” said Mayor Jim Gray. “This increased efficiency and coordination will improve the city’s ability to respond to citizens’ requests and concerns.”
 

The 33,000-square-foot building first opened in 1982 and closed in 2005, when the state took over operation of the juvenile detention system. Gray said that by rehabbing an existing space, the city saves $26 million in construction costs.
 

The new building is an important step for Emergency Management. “During past emergencies, the city has had to rush to locate critical equipment and personnel in a temporary emergency operations center. The new facility will make that transition seamless,” said Director Pat Dugger. “We’ll have plenty of room for elected officials and stakeholders to work together as a team, and for media partners to get regular briefings during emergency events.”
 

Because the building was originally designed as a jail, it can withstand power outages and damage from natural or man-made disasters. The center will feature new fortified windows and state-of-the-art telecommunications technology.
 

For the Enhanced 911, the center will enable dispatchers to provide radio communications for first responders out of a single facility. E-911 currently operates out of police headquarters on Main Street, and has a separate dispatch center at fire headquarters on Third Street.
 

“By merging the dispatch personnel into one center, public safety agencies will be able to better serve the citizens of Lexington by eliminating the need to transfer calls between the two centers we currently occupy,” said E-911 Director Robert Stack.
 

LexCall Manager Pat Tatum said her division is looking forward to moving to the Public Safety Operations Center. “As the centralized call center for Lexington, we initiate hundreds of requests for city services each week,” Tatum said. “In addition, by relocating to the new center, we will be a link between emergency response providers and citizens who need assistance or information during an emergency.”
 

Efforts to build the center have been several years in the making. In 2008, the project stalled when construction estimates ballooned to more than $39 million. The current budget to build and equip the building is less than a third of that at $12.3 million. The new facility will result in additional savings through shared utilities and reduced rental costs.
 

Funding comes from city bonds and a $3 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency through the Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program. The project’s architecture firm is Murphy Graves Trimble, and Churchill McGee is the general contractor.
 

The center is expected to be fully operation by early Summer 2016.
 

From Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government


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