CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — UPDATE: The Bishop Police Department has announced they are again operational after a COVID-19 surge made them temporarily shift their public safety communications to Corpus Christi Police Department's dispatch system earlier this week.
According to a social media post released early Saturday, the Bishop Police Department has concluded contact tracing, isolation, and testing of all potentially exposed BPD communications division personnel. As a result, we have determined there are now a sufficient number of public safety telecommunicators who were either not exposed or tested negative, available to once again adequately staff our dispatch center 24/7.
The calls were transferred back into Bishop's system at 6 a.m. Saturday.
The department thanked the Corpus Christi Police Department for stepping up when they needed them.
"We would also like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank the Corpus Christi Police Department and the men and women of MetroCom, who without hesitation, stepped up and answered the call when a fellow law enforcement agency needed assistance," the Facebook post read. "Your professionalism and dedication to duty reflect great credit upon MetroCom, the Corpus Christi Police Department, and the Public Safety Telecommunications profession as a whole. Thank you!"
The Bishop Police Department announced in a Facebook post that they are working with the Corpus Christi Police Department's MetroCom Division to temporarily transfer their public safety communication functions over to CCPD's dispatch center after one of their dispatchers tested positive for COVID-19 and some of their other dispatchers started feeling symptoms. They now have only two of their five dispatchers working administrative roles at the police department while CCPD is taking on their calls.
“Trying to get a sleep pattern because you don’t know. Making sure you don’t catch it if somebody happens to come in," Bishop Police Department dispatcher Rhonda Payne said about keeping safe while her co-workers are out sick.
Bishop Police Chief Edward Day said Bishop residents won't notice a difference, and that police, fire and EMS services in Bishop aren't affected.
The police department was deep cleaned and sanitized, but "despite those proactive measures, a number of Bishop Police Department’s Communications Division personnel have been affected, which has caused a critical staffing level issue within the Bishop P.D. Communications Division," said Bishop PD's Facebook post.
As a result, Bishop PD's emergency and non-emergency telephone lines have been transferred over to CCPD’s MetroCom on Tuesday, January 11 until "BPD telecommunications staff are back to an adequate operational level."
"We’ve been able to give them all the information that they need so they can plug it in the system and see our units the same that they would see their units on the screen," Chief Day said.
The Corpus Christi Police Department's Deputy Chief Chris White said their police department has the biggest Metrocom center in the Coastal Bend. Since they work with other agencies such as the Nueces County Sheriff's Department and the Nueces County Emergency Services Districts, he said working with the Bishop Police Department hasn't been strenuous.
“Assisting them, making sure that we were able to take in their 911 calls and get their officers dispatched to the community was a priority," Deputy Chief White said.
"Citizens calling the Bishop Police Department’s Emergency / Non-Emergency phone numbers will be connected to a public safety call-taker at MetroCom and Bishop Police, Fire, EMS will still be dispatched to calls for service within Bishop," the Facebook post continued.
The Bishop Police Department's Non-Emergency number is 361-584-2443. For an emergency, dial 9-1-1.
Digital Content Producer Alyssa Flores contributed to this story.