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911 Board tells tow companies that dispatchers don't play favorites

PULASKI COUNTY, Mo. (Dec. 10, 2010) — When Shawn Fry of Jack’s Towing came to the Pulaski County 911 Board with questions about how tow companies were receiving calls, board members told him that no favoritism is given to any of the local tow companies unless a person involved in the wreck specifically requests a tow company.

The county 911 dispatchers and the Waynesville city police daytime dispatcher all maintain a rotating list of tow companies, said 911 Director Michelle Graves at Thursday afternoon’s meeting.

“Say you’re the second on the list and Doug’s in a wreck and he says, ‘I want Jack’s Wrecker.’ They select Jack’s Wrecker, and after you’re contacted you go to the bottom. You don’t stay second,” Graves said.

“So actually when the owner requests it takes you out of the rotation?” Fry asked.

That’s correct, Graves said, but the area tow companies all get about the same number of tow calls for vehicles whose owners don’t express a tow company preference.

“You’ll see when you get the report, they’re all really close in numbers. The only one that’s way under would be Roy’s because they don’t want us to contact them after midnight,” Graves said. “We do everything electronically now in the CAD (computer-aided dispatching) system. The dispatcher doesn’t have to select anything unless they are told to. They automatically just go to it and hit the next one on the list.”

911 Board Chairman Paul Slater said the tow company numbers for this year are 49, 34, 43, and 52, though he didn’t identify which tow company each of those numbers represents.

“It’s pretty much automatic when it goes; it’s controlled by the computer system. They don’t go in and select unless they ask for you,” Slater said.

“It’s fair,” said Waynesville Police Chief Bob Carter.

Carter said he understands that some companies have more tow trucks than others and in major crashes some companies can’t handle large numbers of vehicles.

“If you need three (tow trucks) and he’s on the tow list, he gets all three,” Carter said. “If they say they can’t handle it, they better tell you if they can’t handle it. They better damn tell me quick, because I’m going to clear that roadway. I will make that decision if I can’t get three immediately.”

Fry requested copies of the 2008, 2009 and 2010 reports on calling tow trucks. Graves provided those statistics before he left the meeting.

Fry said there have been cases in which three ‘no preference’ wrecker requests have led to the Waynesville city dispatcher calling three different tow companies.

“She won’t no more,” Carter said.

“I’ve got one question on this just so I understand this,” said Waynesville Rural Fire Chief Doug Yurecko. “They ask for three wreckers. Does it give the next three in line?”

Graves said that specific situation did come up recently.

“The last call that we dealt with was one that asked for three wreckers. We contacted the first (tow company) on the list, told them we needed three wreckers; they told us, ‘We can take two.’ We go to the next person and we said they need one wrecker,” Graves said.

Responding to questions from Yurecko, Carter said that during the day when Waynesville officers are dispatched by their own dispatcher rather than by 911 dispatchers, Waynesville police keep their own rotation list but monitor the 911 list each day to see who had been used the previous night.

Carter warned Fry that tow companies can’t be showing up on crash scenes in his city when they haven’t been requested.

“All of them need to stay off my scenes or they’ll get charged…. Shawn, you know how it operates with my policies, you and Rothmund’s and everyone knows my policies,” Carter said. “I dealt with Poor Boys bitching two years ago on this, and I said, ‘This maintains a record.’ And then I’ve got Rothmund’s bitching and then I’ve got this one here, Jack’s, bitching. Let me tell you guys, your tows are within 10 tows apart. That’s fact. I keep stats.”

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