After six years of heading the 911 communications center, and almost three decades working for York County in one capacity or another, Gary Loflin is stepping down at the end of the week.
Loflin has served as the county’s director of public safety communications since the department was separated from emergency management in 2009. Before that, he worked for 29 years as a 911 dispatcher, managed the county’s IT needs, and for much of the past year served as an interim emergency management director, a job he split with his role heading the 911 system.
By the end of this week, Loflin will step down from his post as director and take on a new job as a consultant for the group Mission Critical Partners, a job he’ll continue to do from Rock Hill. It’s a position that will put the nine years he spent in IT to good use.
“I’ll be working with 911 centers around the country as they transition to a more technologically based system, what they call ‘next generation’ 911,” Loflin said.
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For example, most systems are just now moving to a platform that allows 911 to receive text messages. Most counties and municipalities are still using the original 911 system created for the phones of 1968.
“In the future, you’ll be able to text a picture from your phone of a bank robber’s car, and the police will immediately have that at their fingertips,” he said.
The consulting firm’s gain is York County’s loss, in the eyes of Loflin’s colleagues.
“The fact that he’s moving up shows how good he was, because they’re not going to take just anybody,” said York County Manager Bill Shanahan.
Shanahan recognized Loflin earlier with the county manager’s “Gold Rock” award, after Loflin spent nine months as both communications director and the stand-in head of emergency management, after longtime director Cotton Howell retired in June of 2014. Loflin handed over the reins to Chuck Haynes in March.
In that short time over emergency management, Loflin “updated all their policies and procedures,” Shanahan said. “He wasn’t just checking in, he improved the department.”
For Loflin, a York County native, it was important that his new job let him stay in the community he’s always worked in.
“It’s been a blessing to serve the community,” he said. “I had a lot of friends who went into the military, but I became a dispatcher because I wanted to serve people right here.”
He particularly remembers a lonely dispatch shift in 1988 when he got a call that a bus had overturned on Interstate 77, and he sent the ambulances that took 36 children to the hospital.
“When you’re a dispatcher, you can save a life without anybody ever saying ‘thank you,’ because nobody knows who took the call,” he said.
On Monday, Loflin got his thanks. The York County Council formally recognized the departing director’s long service on the eve of his retirement.
Bristow Marchant • 803-329-4062