For more than two and a half years, Trumbull County Dispatch has not had a permanent 9-1-1 director, instead an interim director has been calling the shots but in the midst of finding a long-term replacement.

"While this happened--we lost our operations director who was our tech guy--he's the guy that made the computers run," said Trumbull County Commissioner Dennis Malloy, who expressed the urgency to fill both positions.

Roger Laird, who is set to step down on Friday, has been the operations manager for 27 years and has a wealth of experience, but behind his departure is a big hole.

"Right now I got a few phone calls from a few police chiefs and fire chiefs that are a little concerned--safety has got to be our utmost priority," Malloy added.  

In the meantime, two county technicians will fill in the void left by the most recent vacancy. 

The operations manager is selected by the director, making the latter the primary focus.  

There have been two job postings since December of last year, however none in the two years prior. 

Commissioner Niki Frenchko pointed to a section of the Trumbull County Policy Manual which reads:

Internal applicants 
"Current employees of Trumbull County may apply for internal job openings. All applicants for a posted vacancy will be considered based on their qualifications and ability to perform the job successfully. Positions that have current personnel ready to assume that position will not be posted."

Frenchko says it's something she wants to change. 

"We've got a large applicant pool, and that's a major position and I believe that's why we need to be advertising and recruiting talent and not just passing jobs off," she added, attributing the lack of advertising to the language in the policy.

The county's human resources director has been instrumental in a vetting process that's been anything but easy.

"You know it's tough to recruit right now I'm not going to lie to you," said Alexandra DeVengencie-Bush.

However, three candidates have emerged and will be interviewed by each of the commissioners starting next week. 

In the absence of an operations manager, two of the county's technicians will be loaned to the call center.

The interim director does not want to be the permanent replacement.