FARMINGTON — The director of Penobscot Regional Communications Center in Bangor gave Franklin County commissioners and supervisors from around the county a presentation on supervisor training at communication centers.

Franklin County commissioners are looking at various options for the dispatch center including governance and supervision, Commission Chairman Gary McGrane said.

One of the options includes making the county’s dispatch center a stand-alone communications center with a director who would answer to commissioners, rather than continue with the sheriff overseeing the operation, McGrane said.

The idea is to see how dispatch operations can be improved as the county prepares to go into a new dispatch center, he said. The county is in the process of building a new dispatch center across from the Sheriff’s Office, which currently houses dispatchers. Construction has not started yet.

Franklin County dispatch Supervisor Melinda Caton asked if county commissioners could do that.

“Legally, we can do this,” McGrane said of changing the way the center is overseen.

Commissioners are looking at what can be done and how it should run, he said. They will be requesting feedback from departments around the county.

Commissioners are not all in agreement about how the communications center will run and which entity would oversee it.

James “Jim” Ryan Jr., executive director, said the Penobscot communications center is a public answering safety point, dispatch center for 146,000 people in Penobscot County and a PSAP/911 for 72,000 people in Aroostook County.

The center handles about 800 calls a day, Ryan said.

The communications center dispatches fire, law enforcement and emergency medical services in 91 departments. It does not handle Bangor’s calls, he said.

Ryan is a retired command master chief for the U.S. Naval Reserve and a retired Maine State Police communications center supervisor.

Ryan went over relationships supervisors should have with employees under them and those supervisors above them and the other way around. He specified that policies are important to develop and should be followed.

“If you don’t have policies you are dead in the water,” Ryan said.

He stressed that supervisors should keep records. They should sit down with employees and do evaluations of performance. They should also listen to employees, they have some good ideas, he said.

Supervisors should also help employees develop job skills and need to be told when they do a job well, he said. Job expectations should be written down and employees should know exactly what you want from them, Ryan said.

Dispatchers at the center he oversees have restrictions on what they can do at the center. They can read but cannot have cellphones, pagers, technology other than what they are working with and an ebook if necessary, he said.

The center also runs on a set of core values: integrity, compassion, professionalism and team spirit.

“Everyone has to go to work and not expect to live with drama,” Ryan said. “We all need to own a piece of the real estate, a feeling of owning a piece of the real estate.”

Ryan said during the presentation the Penobscot center is overseen by a 10-member advisory board. Five fire chiefs and fire police chiefs, he said. The board sets policy.

The Penobscot County sheriff and Bangor police chief each have a permanent seat on the police side. The other chiefs are chosen by the Region Five Law Enforcement Association.

On the fire side, the Bangor fire chief has a permanent seat and the other four chiefs are chosen by the Penobscot Fire Chief Association, Ryan said.

Ryan said his boss is the Penobscot County administrator.

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