• Snohomish County says failing 911 system will cost $75 million to replace

    By: Joanna Small


    SNOHOMISH, Wash. - Snohomish County officials say if immediate action to fix the system that allows dispatchers to talk to fire and police and for them to talk to each other - this is what will happen when you dial 911:

    “Unfortunately nothing,” said Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary.

    City and county fire, city leaders, and dispatchers called a meeting Thursday to urge the county council to address the 19-year-old Motorola radio system. A replacement will cost an estimated $70 to $75 million and needs to happen before the current system is discontinued in 2020.

    “I think most of the city councils, a lot of them anyway, and most of the public safety agencies have weighed in with some kind of support of a measure going to the voters to let the voters decide,” explained Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring.

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    Thursday, the county executive sent a letter to the county chair proposing the county put a .1 percent sales tax increase or a 9-year levy on the ballot.

    It needs to happen soon; the radios are already breaking and repair options are limited.

    The radios are so antiquated in order to find replacement parts just to hold it over until it can be replaced entirely Snohomish county officials say they have to go shopping on eBay.

    It’s a necessity; 50 local agencies use the radios and 1 million 911 calls are dispatched to those agencies through the radios every year.

    “Our officers, our firefighters rely on that communication to be able to provide that service so if we get to a point where we have service interruptions or service failures we can’t provide those vital public safety needs that exist in the county,” Mill Creek Police Chief Greg Elwin explained.

    It already happened last week, when a failure prevented first responders from communicating back to dispatch.

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