Bexar County to provide emergency dispatch services for city of Converse

Commissioners approved agreement today

By Brina Monterroza - Executive Producer, Patty Santos - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Bexar County commissioners approved an agreement Tuesday that could improve communication between the county and the city of Converse when it comes to responding to 911 calls.

Bexar County will now provide law enforcement dispatch services for Converse.

The agreement was in the works, but gained traction last fall following a double fatal shooting in which the agencies were unable to help each other stay informed during the calls, highlighting the lack of communication between them.

Converse Police Chief Fidel Villegas said that, since he has taken office, there have been at least six incidents similar in nature, but not as serious.

"We were stopping suspects and stopping, people making big efforts to get this suspect under arrest," he said. "No one's hearing that outside of our department."

Villegas previously told KSAT that the move would help his officers better communicate with Bexar County deputies over the radio system.

"If, for example, a BCSO deputy is moving through our city and one of our offices asks for assistance in our channel, he's not going to hear it. If a deputy hits an emergency tone, our officer doesn't hear it," Villegas told KSAT in March.

The Bexar County team also provides dispatch for other agencies such as adult probation, constables, district attorney's office investigators, juvenile probation, the National Park Servics, eight municipal police departments and five school police districts. 

It costs the Bexar County Sheriff's Office $4.3 million to contract with Bexar Metro 911.

Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar said several other agencies and municipalities have inquired about contracting with the dispatch.

Right now, the county dispatch has the ability to communicate with other agencies that don't contract with it, but it takes a few seconds or minutes to relay the information. 

"Seconds count in a situation like that, so the quicker we can get help to an officer from either agency, the better," Salazar said. 

It will cost about $170,000 for Converse to contract with the county. The switch will take place sometime in the early part of the summer.

The agreement also means that Converse will be getting rid of its dispatch center. Four of the six employees at the Converse dispatch center will join the county dispatch center.

Converse officials said the agreement will not only allow them to hear each other's calls, but give each agency the ability to step in to help when deputies or officers are close enough to offer help.

Some Converse residents said the agreement was long overdue.

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