06/09/05 — Emergency communications mix-up causes delay

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Emergency communications mix-up causes delay

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on June 9, 2005 1:46 PM

PRINCETON -- A communications mix-up caused a 55-minute wait recently for authorities to respond to a traffic accident that occurred just inside the Wayne County line, Princeton Police Chief Eddie Lewis said.

A passerby saw at least two horses on U.S. 70 at about 4 a.m. May 21 and telephoned 911. They had strayed from a nearby pasture. One of the animals had been struck and died.

Lewis told the Princeton town board meeting on Monday night that the call went to the Princeton cellular phone tower and was transferred to Johnston County Emergency Services in Smithfield.

The closest Johnston County Highway Patrol trooper was near the Johnston-Wake County line and needed 55 minutes to arrive at the scene.

"This will happen from time to time," Lewis said, "and we'll deal with it on a case-by-case basis."

The chief said his officers had responded in a professional manner to the scene, about eight-tenths of a mile inside of Wayne County.

Town Commissioner Walter A. Martin Jr., a Smithfield police detective, said emergency calls near the Wayne-Johnston line might go to either 911 center.

Mayor Don Rains said Princeton and the two counties should work out their problems.

Cleanup campaign

Lewis said he was "well-pleased with the work being done" in a townwide cleanup campaign. But he said he might issue up to five citations to landowners who have not cleaned up substandard buildings and unkempt lots.

The chief said he would work with property owners who are trying to comply with town ordinances but had not completed renovations.

Lewis said a dilapidated, three-bedroom home on Holt's Pond Road had been vacated and junked vehicles were removed. He said at least 19 people had been living in the home.

New police car

Lewis said he will go to Jacksonville to pick a used Ford Crown Victoria police car from a group of five cars -- if Jacksonville police declare the cars surplus and release them. The cars were used by police supervisors and will cost about $11,500 each.

Finding money to keep aging patrol cars operating or buying used cars from other agencies has been a long-running problem for the town.