Rogers County pushes public safety measures

CLAREMORE, Okla. - Rogers County is in the midst of a public safety overhaul -- spending millions on a new courthouse and a new 911 center.

And those priorities have left county officials rethinking the budget.

A new consolidated dispatch center to house the Rogers County 911 system just broke ground. Rogers County 911 administrator Janet Hamilton says it will allow operators to connect to the "next generation" of 911.

"Any type of media that comes that the consumer wants to use to send to 911, we should be able to receive that. Whether that's a text messages, pictures, videos," Hamilton said.

In the meantime, construction on the county's sprawling new courthouse, right next to the old one, is more than halfway complete.

"The old one is simply not just outdated, it's also too small. We have judges that are sharing courtrooms. so their dockets are backing up," said Rogers County commissioner Kirt Thacker.

Thacker says public safety is a priority.

"This was all bought with Rogers County bond money, people voted for this and the 911 center," he said.

Next year's budget is lined with public safety measures-- from new vehicles for the sheriff's office, to four new 911 operators. But the rough draft is nearly one million dollars over-budget.

"It's a little misleading to say we're short, because it's a rough draft," Thacker said.

Some requests will have to be cut. But commissioners say safety measures won't be.

Rogers County officials expect to have the budget balanced and ready for approval sometime this fall.

The new courthouse is scheduled to open its doors next April, and the new  911 center should be ready next summer.

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