KENNEWICK, WA - The Tri-Cities is the fourth largest metropolitan area in the state. As the communities grow, more and more often multiple agencies are called out to emergency situations, but Benton and Franklin County dispatch centers are still on different radio platforms and that's causing some dangerous confusion.
Talks about a regional dispatch center have been going on for more than two years now. Wednesday night's deadly standoff in Pasco really showed how important it is, though. Every single agency in the Tri-Cities: Pasco, Kennewick, Richland, both Sheriff's Offices and State Patrol were on scene that night. But because of the different platforms, they couldn't communicate over their radios.
"It's become such a concern of ours that we really feel like we're placing innocent citizens at risk because if we don't have all the information then we're not able to make decisions to get people out of harm's way," said Benton County Sheriff Steve Keane.
He said at least one Kennewick officer had a bullet fly within inches of his head on Wednesday because responding police weren't aware of where the fire zone was.
Right now, a consultant is looking at the assets and liabilities of a regional dispatch center which we're told would cost tens of millions of dollars to initiate. Benton and Franklin County commissioners will see a final plan in early August and decide whether it's a feasible partnership.