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Knox Regional Communications Center

The Knox Regional Communications Center was created to provide a consolidated public safety answering point for 9-1-1 emergency calls within Knox County. After negotiations at both the State and Local level that have spanned three decades, the Knox R.C.C. will finally realized the ultimate goal on April 11, 2001 when the new 9-1-1 Enhanced system for Knox County was activated.

Knox County’s Action Plan

As far back as 1981 there were on-going talks about duplication of services within the County. The City of Rockland merged the operations of the Rockland Police Department and Fire Department into a combined dispatch center in May of 1983.

Talk of further combined dispatch services with other municipalities, including the Knox County Sheriff’s Department were also discussed. Many meetings were held over the next several years to discuss consolidation of dispatching services, and the move toward a regional 9-1-1-dispatch center.

In 1998 Paul Plaisted of Justice Planning and Management Associates was hired to do a feasibility study of Knox County for Central Dispatch Services. His briefing paper was released on March 17, 1998. After the release of this document, a dispatch advisory committee was formed to investigate the creation of a regional communications center in Knox County. After many months of discussion, a recommendation was made to the County Commission that a Regional Center would work, and the City of Rockland was interested in joining a combined dispatch center. One of the major reasons for this merger was the fact that both Rockland PD and Knox SO had been named as PSAP sites for the new 9-1-1 Enhanced system. Both agencies faced substantial costs and duplication of equipment to become a PSAP. It was recognized early on that merging the two operations into one communications center could save money.

The Dispatch Advisory Committee created a set of By-laws creating the organization now known as Knox Regional Communications Center. An Executive Board was appointed and a recommendation to hire a Director as the department head for the newly created division was made.

On July 1, 1999 the Rockland Police Department communications center merged with the Knox County Sheriff Department communications under the newly created organization of Knox RCC. For the first year, the operation was based out of the Rockland Police Department center as it was already designed for two operator positions.

In December of 1999, Linwood Lothrop was hired as the Director to head the new department and oversee the remodeling of the Knox facility into a Public Safety Answering Point to meet the state and federal guidelines of a PSAP. Director Lothrop’s background included 24 years in public safety dispatch including 15 years as a dispatch supervisor with the Rockland Police Department.

Knox PSAP Created

The County of Knox had approximately $117,000 in funds set aside for the creation of a dispatch center. An RFP was created for console equipment for four operator positions. This included console furniture, and radio control systems designed to consolidate the operation of up to 10 radio frequencies into an ergonomic operator position. The operator position also had to allow for the incorporation of two CPU processors, monitors, and keyboards. The existing space within the Knox Law Enforcement Center was gutted and wires run and new electrical wiring installed. The end result was four new operator positions utilizing Zeetron furniture and Model 4018 radio control system. The radio system is fully redundant with backup radios in place for all operating frequencies. Each operator position has a separate Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) for all console mounted peripherals. The radios also have a separate UPS as well as the telephone system and 9-1-1 Enhanced equipment.

Starting on April 11, 2001 the R.C.C. assumed the emergency dispatching responsibilities of all public safety agencies in Knox County with the exception of the Camden Police Dept, Union Fire Dept, and Washington Fire Dept. Residents of Knox County will only needed to dial 9-1-1 for Police, Fire, or Medical emergencies anywhere in the County. The R.C.C. later took over emergency dispatching for the Union Fire Department and Union Ambulance Service on August 14, 2001, and the Washington Fire Department on September 10, 2002. Lincolnville, which is a town outside Knox County, signed an agreement on May 13, 2003 for the R.C.C. to handle their Fire dispatching and EMS coverage through Camden First Aid Association. The only hold out was the Camden Police Department, which later had the R.C.C. cover dispatching in February of 2006 from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. On June 14, 2007, the R.C.C. took over full-dispatching for Camden.

In 2008 and 2009, a Space Utilization and Needs Assessment was done by QA13/Lichtman Associates on three County departments: EMA, Patrol, and Communications. It was clear that the Communications Center in the Law Enforcement Facility was far too small to meet its current and growing needs. Possible locations to move the R.C.C. to were studied, including the idea of possibly combining Communications with the EMA department. In late 2010, the County began reviewing the option of purchasing 301 Park Street, a property adjacent to 327 Park Street where the Law Enforcement Facility is located. The property was purchased in late 2011 after the voters of Knox County approved a $2.5 million dollar bond in November to purchase the property, renovate the existing building and add an addition on to the back side for the new Communications Center, as well as the Simulcast System Upgrades. R.C.C. staff and the equipment were all moved into the brand new Center in February, 2013 and an open house was held on March 5, 2013. With the new Simulcast Upgrades in place, the R.C.C. protects the citizens of Knox County and the Town of Lincolnville better than ever.

Please see the timeline below for the full description of the evolution of Regional Communications in Knox County.