MARSHALL COUNTY, KY — A majority of first responders in Marshall County have signed a petition expressing no confidence in E-911 Director Chris Freeman.
“He should lose sleep at night knowing that’s not been fixed after more than a year of being here,” says Marshall County Sheriff Eddie McGuire.
McGuire is one of the 150 first responders that signed the petition. They’re concerned that Freeman isn’t doing enough to update equipment they rely on every day.
“The last several years, we’ve had radio communications issue,” says McGuire.
McGuire says the fiscal court approved funding to update first responders communications system late last year. The first step in updating the system is installing three repeaters, or towers that transmit signals to the radios. Eight months later, the repeaters have not been installed. McGuire says they’ve been told that E-911 is waiting on a cable to come in to install the repeaters.
“We still don’t have the basic infrastructure to run everyday emergency calls, and the safety of our folks is what’s paramount,” says McGuire.
Recordings of previous radio transmissions illustrate McGuire’s point. On a call in March of 2019, you can hear in a recording a deputy trying to communicate on the radio, but you can’t understand what he’s saying. Later while on the same call, another deputy addresses the radio issue.
“I need you to call my cell phone ASAP til we get a hold of 48. These radios aren’t getting out,” says the deputy in the recording.
That’s the main reason 150 first responders signed the petition, expressing no confidence in Freeman. They sent the petition to the Marshall County Fiscal Court. County Commissioner Kevin Spraggs agrees it’s a major issue.
“It’s something we need to take very serious, and put everything else on the back burner until we get reliable communications for our first responders,” says Spraggs.
County Commissioner Justin Lamb sent us the following statement on the matter.
“In light of the petition, we will certainly look into these concerns, and I appreciate this group of emergency responders for bringing them to the court’s attention. In my observation, there have been several accomplishments made by Director Freeman over the past 15 months including completing the Text to 911 project, securing a grant to replace outdated consoles and recorders, securing a grant to fix CAD system, and he is currently working to assist law enforcement agencies to help fix radio infrastructure and repeater issues. There is also a new level of professionalism at our 911 center now in large part to Mr. Freeman’s leadership and the work of our dedicated 911 dispatchers. In order to provide adequate public safety for our citizens, we must all work together in a constructive way that puts the safety of our citizens, law enforcement officers, and emergency responders at the forefront all while providing our 911 dispatchers the resources they need to adequately do their jobs.”
Commissioner Monti Collins says it’s an issue that has to be resolved. He says he hopes the two sides can work together.
McGuire also says communication with Freeman is an issue, too. He says they’d like to bring back a board made up of first responders to oversee E-911.
“It tears me up to know that we find resistance when we ask for things that keep us alive,” says McGuire.
Local 6 reached out to both Freeman and Judge Executive Kevin Neal. Neal said he has no comment due to legal reasons. Freeman has not returned our calls.