BPD Still Unable To Track Cellphone Calls To 911

May 14, 2018

The Bethel Police Department is still unable to track cellphone calls to 911.

It’s been five months since KYUK reported on the limitations in Bethel’s 911 system, and some of those issues still have not been addressed. If you call 911 from a cellphone, dispatchers still won’t be able to track where you are.

GCI and the Bethel Police Department haven’t upgraded the system to include location services. According to Police Chief Burke Waldron, GCI might not have enough towers in the area for geo-location to be reliable. GCI Spokesperson Heather Handyside says that’s not an issue, and she’s confident that GCI can provide location services to the police department’s 911 system. The company is waiting on the Bethel Police Department to confirm that their equipment is up to date, which former dispatcher Natalie Hayes claims the department already did.

Once that satisfies GCI, Handyside says that it could still take up to six months for the company to implement the upgraded 911 system.

Improving the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta’s emergency system also failed to get traction in Juneau. Last month, the Senate Finance Committee rejected Governor Walker’s proposal to invest in centralizing the state’s 911 system. Walker hoped to divert $9.5 million from the state budget to fortifying and expanding the State Trooper’s 911 dispatch centers. That part of the Governor's Public Safety Action Plan appears not to have made it into the adjournment package. Senate Finance Co-Chair Anna MacKinnon said that the Governor’s 911 plan wasn’t detailed enough.