County Must Lead On 911

BY MIKE RYAN

 

 

We are closer than ever to implementing the most significant improvement to public safety in decades – consolidation of our E911 call-handling and dispatch countywide.

Refresher — Why You MUST care?

A 911 call for help, whether from a child’s bedroom or a kitchen, is far more likely to be made from a cell phone than a land line.  However, that cell phone 911 call may be routed by a tower to a dispatch center that cannot send help immediately.

Thousands of 911 calls are “mis-directed” each year in Broward County.  After taking critical information and once realized, the 911 call is then transferred to another center.  Emergency help is delayed.  Consolidating 911 centers will minimize or eliminate this unnecessary and preventable delay.

In addition, we have 10 separate centers in the County, running independently with differing operating procedures, that don’t “talk” to each other, and which have widely varying financial tolerance for upgrades.  We know we can do better.

The Implementation Board

The Implementation Board (“I-Board”) is made up of 28 City Managers as well as representatives of the Fire Chiefs and Police Chiefs Associations, BSO and the County.  Like the 22 members of the predecessor Broward County Consolidated Communications Committee, the I-Board is a cross-representation of our county.

The I-Board issued a Draft Report on November 15, 2012.

According to the prior feasibility study, the Consolidated Communications Committee and now the I-Board, consolidation of 911 communications will not only save lives, improve responses times and finally implement what the voters demanded a decade ago – closest unit response for medical emergencies — but there are some important financial impacts:

  • Projected savings county-wide of $100,000,000 over the next decade;
  • Projected efficiencies reducing 10 centers to 3 (New York City has 1 center for all 5 boroughs; Broward County has 10!);
  • Significant cost savings for projected Next Generation 911 upgrades.

The I-Board overwhelmingly recommended consolidated 911 communications be treated like a true, regional service to secure long term stability and funding predictability. Why? Simple.

We all travel across multiple municipal boundaries each day.

But what happens if we have to rely on each participating municipality to send a check every October 1, and one says it can’t … or won’t?  What if two or more can’t, or won’t?   We all start paying more than our fair share, and eventually the entire 911 system falls apart.

As a result, municipalities representing 87% of the Broward County’s population asked the County to take a leadership role and fund this as a regional service.

That’s more than the percentage of residents who demanded a decade ago that the County Commission implement the infrastructure to guarantee closest unit response for medical emergencies – and it is still isn’t done … yet.

What Happens If We Fail To Consolidate?

The County Commission, which is obligated to fund ALL infrastructure, including upgrades, will pay significantly more for upgrades to 10 (or more) dispatch sites.

We lose the expected $100,000,000 in savings over the next decade.

We continue to fund too many physical dispatch sites.

Some sites are not sufficiently hurricane strong, jeopardizing residents during and after storms.

But most importantly, every hour of every day response times will be delayed due “mis-directed” cell phone E911 calls.  This alone makes our collective failure unacceptable.

 

Next Steps?

 

A problem erupted this week.  Discounting the request of cities representing 87% of Broward County’s population and the thoughtful recommendations of the I-Board, some on the County Commission say they will refuse to vote for a single, predictable and stable funding stream through the County ad valorem taxes for county-wide public safety, like they do for libraries, parks and busses.

The issue really is, do residents pay to a municipality which may not forward the check for communications, or does the County make sure we ALWAYS have 911 services funded?

To the I-Board, I say : Stand behind your consensus recommendations and what the cities representing 87% of the 1,800,000 residents, thousands of businesses and tens of millions of visitors of Broward County requested.  Finish the performance metrics, plan for the transition, and outline all operational and governance structure recommendations.

Then, it will be left to five people on County Commission to decide.  We each decide our own legacy and what role we play in the pace of progress.

 

(Broward County Consolidate Communications Committee was co-chaired by Broward County Commissioner Lois Wexler and Mayor Mike Ryan of Sunrise.)  

 



20 Responses to “County Must Lead On 911”

  1. George Mihaiu says:

    Great article, Buddy! Am passing along the link to it via my personal FB page. Thanks! George Mihaiu

  2. Richard J Kaplan says:

    Mike,

    What was not mentioned here but in your past article, and is significant is that in 2002, the Voters of Broward County passed by 80% a Resolution directing the County Commission to create and fund such a system.

    “The County Commission with cooperation from Municipalities shall establish a countywide communications infrastructure for fire and emergency medical services. The County shall provide funding for the communications infrastructure and all service providers will utilize the elements of the communications infrastructure. The communications infrastructure shall facilitate closest unit response for life-threatening emergencies and support for regional specialty teams.”

    Like many other county referendums of that past, they still have not implemented it 10 years later.

  3. Sick of Higher Taxes says:

    I’m a little confused. Admittedly, my thoughts start to wander halfway through most of Mike Ryan’s articles, but this whole idea seems too simple to not be implemented. What exactly is the hang-up? If I pay taxes to my city for dispatching services, aren’t I also currently paying the county for other city’s dispatching services? And if that is in fact the case, would my takes go down if this consolidation actually comes to fruition? Like I said, it seems a little too simple – what is the real hang-up?

  4. John Fusaro says:

    We need someone to file a lawsuit to give them a kick in the.

  5. John Fusaro says:

    Consolidation will eleminate jobs and lost revenue for those who lose there call center.

  6. David Rosenof says:

    Mike – thank you so much for taking the lead on this! Been a long time coming.

  7. voter says:

    some cities do not want to consolidate because they want to save jobs
    Fort Lauderdale for example

    Will the new sheriff Scott Israel do right by county taxpayers, or side with his former employer FLPD and let them have their own dispatch?
    If he doesn’t consolidate he may not get re-elected in 2016

  8. Just a Taxpaying Citizen says:

    Mayor Ryan,
    I know you and many others have put a lot of work and effort into this, I am so concerned that this is taking so long.
    My entire family uses cell phones. What do I say to them” geez, I’m really sorry, but we have to wait until someone get s us to the proper call center please don’t die”? Even better, your call has been miss directed please suffer until we can get you to the right provider of service “so sorry”.
    Is this consolidation a matter of MONEY, because the life of my love ones is priceless! I want whoever is the closest to me, to come when it could be a matter of life and death, with only minutes to spare. I need to know that I did everything I could to so that the person in my life could get the best possible care. Not sit on a phone and hope that everyone gets it right.
    So who is this hurting or effecting? The impression that I am receiving is safety is not first, why is this not the priority?
    Is this a political issue? I thought the people of this county all ready made their position very clear where they stand on this issue.
    We the people have given our elected officials and city representative’s clear direction when we voted for 911 consolidations some years ago. This is what we wanted, and we should not be getting anything less especially if we are already paying our taxes for it.
    The people that we depend on to run this county should keep that in mind when making their decisions. You need to put the PEOPLE first because we are out here and we are watch

  9. Broward observer says:

    Typical of the county commission to ignore the public.I agree with John Fusaro that we need a lawsuit to force this solution.

  10. what if says:

    But there are some communities, like Coral Springs, that dont want to participate. What do you do? Force them?

  11. City Activist Robert Walsh says:

    So much for your “demand letters” concerning all this (e-911)Al Lamberti. Think twice next time before you give the City Of Ft.lau threatening letters to shut us off. Imagine. Then for the cherry on top Lamberti sent two(2) demand letters, not just one. Although cherry on top of the sundae was Lamberti losing on Election day.Word to the wise to others…

  12. Jack Tayport says:

    I see the convicted felon idiot is at it again with his stupid remarks and you may not be on food stamps but I guess thats because you were convicted of drugs and burgleries and what you did that you were not caught at.

  13. voter says:

    I agree with John – need a lawsuit (class action??) to get this done. Voters approved in 2000 county wide. Coral springs can’t refuse to participate unless they want to seceed from county. ft ldle keeps buying radio and comm. equipment ignoring the voter mandate.
    taxpayers need a good lawyer.

  14. No Fan of Mayor Ryan says:

    Three Cheers for Mayor Ryan!!!! What the hell’s wrong with County Commission? They don’t want to pay fo 9-1-1 ? They shouldn’t have to raise taxes to do it, CUT THE FAT!!!Build a new courthouse, NO PROBLEM! Expand the Airport, NO PROBLEM! Go all over the world on Trade Missions, NO PROBLEM! Give us the best 9-1-1 system money can buy, NOT OUR PROBLEM – LET THE CITY’S PAY! UNBELIEVABLE! Let’s fire the bums and get new bums!!Start with Sue and Kristin!

  15. Fast & Easy says:

    In an emergency, it should be possible to just quickly state your nine-dight ZIP code – that alone will pinpoint your location almost exactly (usually identifying a single building)!

  16. just the facts says:

    Is this true??
    County would have to make room for the city on its system.

    http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/broward/fl-public-safety-radios-failing-20121207,0,2352431.story

    FLL proposal to move to a more-advanced 12-channel Motorola system would still take 9 months after approval to be up and running – but commissioners aren’t sure that’s the way they want to go.

    They would prefer to migrate to the county system and have the county assume responsibility for any future upgrades. But even that migration could take ten months, City Manager Feldman said, because the county would have to make room for the city on its system.

    The migration issue is complicated by an ongoing dispute over who should pay for emergency dispatch and for the city’s call center. Fort Lauderdale and other cities have been at odds with the county for more than a year on the 911 issue, and Fort Lauderdale recently threatened not to be part of the countywide dispatch system.

    Feldman said the city will need to decide whether it expects to reach agreement with the county and how long that could take. The commission will discuss the issue again on Dec. 18.

  17. Lamberti is garbage says:

    Now that Civilian Elect Lamberti is gone, this process will move along smoothly with no more interference from the Lamberti Crime Family.

  18. plantationtruth says:

    In theory, closest unit Dispatch is a wonderful idea. However, I think we are looking at this ignoring a fact. With closest unit dispatch, the closest fire/medical unit will respond regardless of jurisdiction. The problem as a city taxpayer I have is that there are some cities like Lauderdale Lakes who are broke and have substandard services and manning. So every time their units are busy, units from other cities will be there servicing their residents. All the while I’ve paid my municipal taxes. Doesn’t seem all that fair. Mayor Ryan keeps talking about the 911 component yet that is one facet. Who subsidizes the fire/rescue portion. Wouldn’t a county wide fire/rescue service make more sense?

  19. just the facts says:

    plantationtruth-
    do some fact checking – Lauderdale Lakes has BSO police and fire. they are billed accordingly. LLakes is behind in annual payments, but is paying something. this was covered ad naseum in BCC meetings back in 2010 and 2011, and Evan Lukic, BC audi

    county-wide fire would make sense but the local yokels on city fire trucks would never have it. It would ruin their sweetheart salary and pension deals.

  20. plantationtruth says:

    What I meant is when any city FD goes into another jurisdiction. Not necessarily BSO-FR.
    Im well aware of the fiasco that is going on with BSO and Lakes. Arent they like $9million behind?
    Yet, we, collectively, all the Broward taxpayers are subsidizing their city. Ridiculous! Any you are right that it actually is the city politicians who do not want to give up control.

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