BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WALA) – It was smooth sailing along coastal Baldwin County Wednesday afternoon. But when considering the future of public safety communications and operations, the Gulf Shores Police Department said something a bit farther from the beach would be better.
“We, of course, want our resources close to us, but not too close, based on location to any type of storm impact that it has for our area,” Josh Coleman, a spokesman with the Gulf Shores Police Department, said.
The department is beginning a renovation process, part of which is a new communications center. But before they move on their own, they’re looking at partnering with their sister city to the east.
“Their problems are our problems. If we have a big problem, we help each other out. We both have festivals. They have a large music festival, we have the amphitheater to deal with. We both have large spring break crowds at the same time. So we both need to know what each other is doing,” Orange Beach Chief Billy Wilkins said.
Part of moving forward is the feasibility study approved by the Orange Beach city council Tuesday night. Gulf Shores had already given the study the green light. The $19,990 investigation addresses several unknowns.
“There’s questions that need to be answered as far as cost sharing, what we would need to do to staff it, what it would take if we decide to bring the fire departments in on this and not just the police departments. There’s a lot of questions that need to be answered,” Wilkins said.
One of the reasons they’re looking into the study now is because there is already a bit of overlap in the way the two departments communicate, like their radio systems, which can communicate with each other. So they said it makes sense for them to move forward together.
“We recently have started sharing a computer aided dispatch system so all of those functions are working hand-in-hand with each other and this, of course, would take all of those elements and put them into one location,” Coleman said.
The study, being conducted by Ohio-based Management Partners, is expected to be completed in 12 weeks.