East Feliciana Sheriff’s phone numbers changing

Emergency call-taking and dispatching duties will be switched from the East Feliciana Parish Sheriff’s Office to a new 911 call center Wednesday, resulting in a change of priorities for existing sheriff’s telephone numbers, officials said.

The switch will be made at 10 a.m. Wednesday, said Bill Ford, chairman of the parish’s Emergency Communications Commission.

The most commonly used telephone number for the sheriff’s criminal investigation and prison operations is (225) 683-5459, but the public is asked to use it starting Wednesday for complaint calls of a non-emergency nature only, Ford said.

Chief Civil Sheriff’s Deputy Wendi Hooge, a member of the commission, said parish residents should continue to call 911 for emergency assistance from police, firefighters or emergency medical personnel.

For routine complaints that do not rise to the level of an emergency, parish residents should call the complaint line, which will be answered at the 911 center for prompt dispatching, she said.

Callers wishing to speak to a specific deputy in an office at the jail should call (225) 683-3313. That number also should be used to reach detectives and inquire about bail or other prisoner issues, Ford said.

The commission receives revenue from a telephone subscriber surcharge and a property tax to operate the 911 system, which has been housed in the Sheriff’s Office since the service began.

The two agencies recently reached an agreement to make the change after patching over a dispute last year about funding for the operations.

The commission has purchased new, state-of-the-art telephone equipment and a computerized dispatching system for the new call center, which is housed in the commission’s building off Plank Road in Clinton, Ford said.

In addition to agreeing to help pay the salaries of the dispatchers, many of whom are moving from the sheriff’s staff, Sheriff Talmadge Bunch also contributed $30,000 toward the purchase of the computer based dispatching system, Ford said.

“Financially, he’s helped us greatly,” Ford said.

“We’re excited about the new center. Everybody’s focused on what’s best for the parish,” Hooge said.