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Steuben to keep 911 under commissioners

ANGOLA -- The Steuben County Communications (911) Department will stay under the jurisdiction of the county commissioners, despite the sheriff’s plea to hand it over to his department.

Nearly 60 people – including many county workers and elected officials – crowded into the small chambers at today’s commissioners’ meeting.

Commissioners board President Ronald Smith welcomed the crowd, then looked in the direction of Steuben County Sheriff Tim Troyer and said, “The answer is no.

“This is staying in the hands of the commissioners,” he said.

Troyer had recently voiced concerns, saying the 911 center had a critical lack of manpower, direction and resources and that the ongoing problems were a threat to public safety.

Troyer was backed by others, including Angola Police Chief Stu Hamblen and Prosecutor Michael Hess, who both agreed the commissioners should relinquish control and turn the center back over to the sheriff’s department.

The Communications Department was under the jurisdiction of the sheriff’s department until 1992, when it was handed over to commissioners after a new jail was built.

Troyer outlined measures he would take to stabilize the center, both long term and short term.

“If you’re wrong, it can cost lives. If I’m wrong, we are just better prepared,” Troyer said.

Smith said they are in the process of hiring a 911 director/consultant to work in the interim until a permanent director is found. A decision to hire the consultant was expected this afternoon.

Longtime dispatcher and communications director Cindy Snyder resigned last week.

“There is no crisis and we are resolving the personnel situation,” Smith said. “The center is staffed to my satisfaction.”

For more on this story, see Tuesday’s print edition of The Journal Gazette or visit after 3 a.m. Tuesday.