Court rules for Joplin in 911 dispute with Jasper County

Friday, July 20, 2007

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) -- The city has won a court victory in a dispute with Jasper County over who will handle emergency 911 calls within Joplin.

A Jasper County Circuit Court on Thursday ruled that the city of Joplin has the authority to operate its own 911 dispatching system. The court barred the Jasper County Emergency Services Board from proceeding with a plan to take over all 911 emergency calls that originate within Joplin.

The decision answers a months-long conflict that started when the county board announced plans to take over Joplin's 911 calls from landline phones. The county already handles emergency calls from cell phones in Joplin.

Joplin challenged the plan in court, saying it would slow city responses if callers had to be questioned first by county dispatchers before they were transferred to the city.

Officials of the county board disagreed, saying they had authority over 911 dispatching in the county after voters approved a tax to fund a countywide 911 system.

Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr on Thursday said he was "very pleased with the judge's decision."

Kelly Stephens, chairman of the county board, said he considered the decision "a win for both sides."

After a June 22 trial, Circuit Judge David Dally had urged the two sides to reach a political decision rather than a legal one.

Dally's ruling agreed with city arguments that Joplin can operate its own 911 call center within a county whose voters have approved a sales tax for a countywide 911 system, noting Joplin is a constitutional Home Rule Charter city and has been answering 911 calls since 1974.

Information from: The Joplin Globe,

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