iluna@valleytowncrier.com

PHARR - The city of Pharr celebrated a ribbon cutting ceremony for its revamped Public Safety Communications building Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019.

The facility is a regional dispatch center dispatching for the City of Penitas PD and FD, City of Progreso FD, City of Linn-San Manuel FD, Texas Emergency Medical Task Force -11 (radio host) and the City of Pharr’s PD and FD.

Local law enforcement agencies from Edinburg’s police and fire department and Penitas police department, including U.S. Customs Border and Protection were present for a VIP tour of the new facility. The building includes a small gym, a dispatch floor, a quiet room and other amenities.

Pharr’s public safety communications director, Daniel Ramirez believes the dispatch center will serve more cities as it was built to add other agencies.

“We built it for growth as we do consider ourselves a regional dispatch center now,” said Daniel Ramirez, Pharr public safety communications director. “Once we’ve completed training we will add our EMS providers so no calls can be transferred out of the center. As the call comes in, everything is in our cad already and [telecommunicators] determine what to dispatch based on what the call is so there isn’t that delay when calls are getting transferred.”

The dispatch floor provides 14 stations but is currently using six. Pharr’s telecommunicators work 12 hour shifts under a supervisor at all times. All dispatch desks were custom built to the room and can be elevated to the comfort of Pharr’s telecommunicators.

“To us communication is key for the city and as our telecommunicators,” said Ramirez. “We’ve built it around them so that they have a good work environment. We’re trying to make this a career for them, not a stepping-stone or a job. We understand they go through a lot of the same things as first responders go through too.

Pharr has over 400 cameras placed throughout its city that can be pulled up at anytime, although not all at once; to see any major accident by tilt, zoom and pan.

“The newest camera is the interchange on our 150 ft. tower,” said Ramirez. “We have all our radios and microwave/internet for wireless and at the very top we have our new pan, tilt and zoom two-kilometer camera.”

Pharr mayor, Ambrosio Hernandez, M.D., county officials and Casandra Garcia Meade, deputy state director from the office of Sen. Ted Cruz, were present at the facility's ribbon cutting.

“I’m so excited to see this communication center here,” said Casandra Garcia Meade, deputy state director from the office of Sen. Ted Cruz. “On behalf of Senator Cruz, it’s truly an honor to join and celebrate with you the grand opening of the Pharr Public Safety Communications building. To the mayor and commission leaders, thank you for seeing the importance of building this facility.”

The communication building houses three departments - fire public safety communications, innovation and technology (I.T.) and their emergency operations center (EOC) . The facility will also serve Pharr’s residents through a two-lane drive thru paystation for water bill payments located on the north side of the building.