What was once a cramped, dimly lit office space on the second floor at Ardmore City Hall is now a robust action center worthy of its responsibilities.
The Ardmore Police Department’s dispatch center has recently undergone a transformation, one that APD Capt. Keith Ingle hopes will lighten the mood while providing dispatchers and the callers they serve greater access to services.
“We took two offices and turned them into one dispatch center,” Ingle said. “We now also have three consoles that are able to function on all aspects of first responders — fire, police and paramedics.”
The new consoles features a state of the art desk with automated features that allow the user to raise or lower the monitor and keyboard levels to fit their needs. The flexibility allows the dispatcher to operate from a lowered seated position up to a standing position throughout their 12-hour shift while providing ample space to perform under pressure.
“They always have to be able to prioritize what’s more important, what needs to be dispatched first,” Ingle said. “They will have 911 calls going, sometimes three of four at a time.”
At an estimated cost of about $80,000, the renovations bring more to the office than a new coat of paint and shiny new equipment.
“They get a bunch of calls per day,” Ingle said. “They may be right in the middle of an emergency call where they need to be calm while another one is directing an officer to the report of a crime, they are close enough that they can still help each other, but they have the distance so the officers can hear the dispatchers and not get all that background noise. In the other room, it was half this size and they were crammed together and there were always background noise problems.”
 Ingle said another feature, a light dimmer and power windows, help lighten the mood while allowing the dispatchers to focus on the screens or reduce eye strain at various points throughout the day or night.
“It keeps them from being stuck in doom and gloom all the time,” Ingle said. “You want to be able to see outside. You don’t want to feel stuck in this place where you only hear all the bad stuff going on 24/7.”
Ingle said the biggest impact has come from an increase in clear communications. First responders are now getting only the information they need.
“We’ve always had good respond times, but it has helped with communications,” Ingle said. “Now you can clearly hear what is going on and you don’t hear what the other one is saying.”
APD Dispatcher Virginia Cottrell said the new facilities are a significant improvement over what they were accustomed too.
“I absolutely love it, we have more room, it’s more comfortable,” Cottrell said. “I can stand up and move around instead of having to sit down the whole time.”