Board to County: Consolidate 911 NOW!


By Mike Ryan


We have an opportunity this coming fiscal year to move forward on one of the most significant improvements to public safety in decades AND conserve taxpayer resources for the future – consolidate E911 Communications.

This is not a new or novel idea … just one that has been way too slow to implement.


Twelve Years Later and Still No Consolidation


In 2001, the Broward County Board of County Commissioners and the Broward County Charter Review Commission paid for a lengthy study known as the “Tri-Data Report”.

The study recommended, and voters later demanded, development of the infrastructure for closest unit response in medical emergencies.

Amazingly, 12 years ago, this study also recommended consolidation of E911 communications and dispatch services — for both police and fire rescue services — to improve safety, save lives and conserve precious taxpayer resources. 

Frustratingly, more than a decade later, implementation is far from certain because some members of the County Commission will not support a regional funding model as my previous story discussed.


Implementation Advisory Board Issues Report Today


Today, the Broward County Consolidated Communications Implementation Advisory Board, tasked by the County Commission with making implementation recommendations, issued their Final Report linked here. 

The Recommendations:  Consolidate E911 services now and implement a regional funding model that is stable and predictable to ensure E911 is protected long term.


The Implementation Board


The Implementation Board (“I-Board”) was 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.

According to the prior feasibility study, the Consolidated Communications Committee and now the I-Board, consolidation of 911 communications will 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 three;
  • Significant cost savings for projected Next Generation 911 upgrades.


E911 Should Be Implemented and Protected as a Regional Service


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



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 won’t pay its share? Or two won’t pay? Or more?

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?


Failure to consolidate means this:

  • 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 dispatch sites throughout the county.

Some current sites are already a problem.  Some 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 “misdirected” cell phone E911 calls.  This alone makes our collective failure unacceptable.


Next Steps?



Some on the County Commission have said they will not support a true regional funding approach — saying 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 we have for libraries, parks and busses.

I say … the time for leadership is now.   We need the County Commission to vote in favor of this model.

Let’s move forward to implement what voters demanded a decade ago, which a feasibility study said will improve service and conserve taxpayer resources, which two separate and independent committees tasked by the County Commission have ratified, and which municipalities representing 87 percent of the county’s population have requested – treat this as a true Regional Service, develop stable funding and finish the project voters demanded a decade ago.

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


16 Responses to “Board to County: Consolidate 911 NOW!”

  1. No Leaders says:

    Leadership from the county commission????? That’s too much to expect Mayor Ryan.

  2. BCDevelopment says:

    Practical…rational…economical….objectively vetted & beneficial to the public at large…..unfortunately that’s exactly why some on the County Commission won’t support it!

    Thanks Mayor Ryan for your diligence & service….Sadly, many of your peers lack the same level of commitment and sincerity you have for the people they represent.

  3. Richard J Kaplan says:

    Mike and the Committee did an excellent job putting this together. It seems the biggest problem with the County Commission is the funding issue.

    The 2002 Charter Resolution is very clear on this:

    “The County shall provide funding for the communications
    infrastructure and all service providers will utilize the elements of the communications infrastructure.”

    It doesn’t say the municipalities will fund it, but that the county will.

    The feeling is that since the people have spoken the County Commission should comply with its own Charter. I hope the Commission follows the vote of the people.

  4. Just Beachy says:

    When do we get to see consequences for failure to act, besides at the voting booth???

  5. Ha Ha Ha says:

    And how long has it been since we were promised traffic light synchronization?

    As far as I can tell, Broward’s traffic lights are currently programmed to create the maximum amount of wear and tear on the brakes in as many vehicles as possible.

    And it’s not just signal timing, though that’s certainly a world-class failure. It’s also the total lack of sensors, which leads to brilliant moves like halting very heavy rush-hour traffic on University Blvd with a red light, clearing the way for a grand total of ZERO vehicles on some ghost-town of a side street. That happens repeatedly, every single day, throughout Broward County.

    And why exactly isn’t more helpful technology – synchronization, sensors, etc. – being added to Broward’s red lights?

    Maybe it’s the low quality of our politicians, who seem to think that genuinely helpful red light technology is of no interest to Broward residents. How can we invest in improving the quality of life here, when we have so many jackasses like Angelo Castillo who think Broward needs sadistic red light cameras instead?

    What Broward really needs is an industrial recycling plant for politicians. Politicians like Angelo Castillo, Patricia Atkins-Grad, Beverly Gallagher, Joe Eggelletion, etc. could be shredded and turned into newly minted Tim Ryans. Awesome!!!

  6. Strong Mayors Suck says:

    Just Beachy is RIGHT on! When will we see accountability for the lack of the Counties representation!? The residents(voters/bosses) have issued marching orders! The workers (County Commissioners) shall comply! When they do not, they should be reprimanded and have charter that immediately ends their term upon non-compliance.

  7. Nick Sakhnovsky says:

    Sad to say, but signal synchronization was under a now-indicted former official: see and see

  8. Reality says:

    Mayor Ryan,

    How does your city benefit from this? Is it from the safety perspective, or because if the county has to fund it, you can do more pet projects with the money Sunrise saves. What about cities like Deerfield? To make the system work better, shouldn’t Broward and Palm Beach consolidate? Maybe the State should take over, but then again there are cities that border other states… Let’s do a nation 911!!! Yeah big government, screw homerule!

  9. WhoIsFilingTheLawsuit says:

    Would a lawsuit help?

  10. Tax Watcher says:

    The truth about consolidation is they are going to form an independent taxing district made up of union and union supporters and tax the residents of Broward for this regionalized system. They aren’t going to reduce your municipal taxes!! Wake up people!!
    Now add on Mayor Ryan’s school security tax and find a new City and County to move to!

  11. Ha Ha Ha says:

    Dear Tax Watcher,

    Many Broward residents would be very happy to see you follow your own advice. And here is a perfect new city and county for you to move to: Fayette, Mississippi (Jefferson County)!

    Jefferson County has the lowest per capita income in Mississippi and the 17th lowest in the United States. In 2009 Jefferson County was the fourth poorest county in the United States. It’s the perfect place for Tax Watchers! No investments, no infrastructure – it’s rock bottom living at its finest!

    Goodbye, Tax Watcher, and please send postcards back to Broward inviting your fellow Tea Partiers to join you in Fayette, Mississippi’s newest subdivision, “Teabaggers R Us”!!!

    I’ll even write the postcard message for you: “Why live in heavily Democratic Broward County when you could be Teabagging away right here in Fayette, Mississippi?”

  12. just one vote says:

    if you are correct its a sad day and more to come. Maybe Israel will take a cue from voters and force the hand of the cities bucking the county wide implementation. Mayor Ryan is correct that some current dispatch centers do not comply – in spite of millions of dollars spent by these cities for “Hurricane Hardening”. These are the same cities spending Millions of Dollars in last 2 years on more motorola radio equipment for their obsolete hurricane vulnerable buildings. Why? They don’t want to pay BSO, want to keep employees they are beholden to, and assure that BSO does not try (or have to) take over their own police and fire forces. But that is coming – may take 10 years but eventually BSO will be police and fire conty wide. Its economy of scale, and most will fight it tooth and nail. Once current electeds are term limted, they’ll aquiesce as there will be no redress for unions, or tax paters.
    Coconut Creek broke ground a year ago on a FBC Cat5 compliant dispatch center supposedly to be complete and occupied end of 2013.
    Mayor Ryan is simply reiterating what has been suppressed and derailed by BCC over last 12 years.

  13. Memories says:

    If we don’t remember the past, we are doomed to repeat it. Consolidation was tried in the 70’s. It didn’t work because the Sheriff’s Office hired federally subsidized workers (then known as CETA workers) who would not or could not learn and handle the job competently. The performance of the workers, and the system, was so poor that cities pulled out to provide better service to their residents.

    Here we are, almost 40 years later, debating making the same mistake again because the inept county government will not hire and pay competent workers in a job they consider non-critical. Quite the opposite, 911 work is psychologically grueling and very critical.

  14. just one vote says:

    Mayor Mike Ryan was at BCC yesterday to speak on the need and common sense of consolidating county-wide 911. Hours later after amny speaking the BCC votes NO on a dedicated line item exclusive to funding (part of or all) countywide 911. Why? The will of the voters in 2000 has not changed. How many cities stand to benefit economically or otherwise by NOT consolidating? How many stand to benefit economically or otherwise by consolidating? S-S write-up implies Sunrise can benefit as they have a dispatch center. Is it Cat5/FBC compliant? I don’t know byt FBC requires emergency ops functions be in Cat5 compliant structures. Coconut Creek with one comm. speaking yesterday at BCC is building a Cat5 compliant structure for dispatch, to be CofO end of 2013. FLL does not have one, and bubble gum and band-aids on their 1700 W Broward structure will not make it a Cat5 structure.
    So whats the deal? Any leadership from our new Sheriff Israel on this? Some leadership? Maybe Mayor Ryan and Israel, and some other commone sense level headed leaders in the county will grab a bite (on their own nickel), put aside differences, and get this done. Start now, forget the millage, force the hand of the BCC, call their bluff, use BSO leverage complying with will of the voters 12+ years late and shame and embarrass the detractors putting obstacles int he way of this implementation.
    Oh, and a really strong Plaintiff’s lawsuit for failure by 911 to respond will get all their attention and force them by way of their wallets to implement this. A woman in Plantation dies a few blocks from Plantation PD a few years back. She was trying to get away from an ex- who was threatening her. She called 911. The routing, and re-routing and re-routing again as we all know delayed even locating her in her car, attempting to flee from the ex.
    Mayor Ryan and Israel please get together for lunch!!

  15. sidelines says:

    sun-sentinel reports this
    “The Broward County Property Appraiser’s Office has deadlines approaching for any city that wants to add an MSTU, or Municipal Services Taxing Unit…..The property appraiser’s office needs to know about new MSTUs “no later than May 15th “in order for our IT Dept to have enough time to make any programming changes.” A new tax would need approval from the city councils and city commissions, so watch your City Hall and the Sun Sentinel for that.,0,4287488.story

    Buddy your BrowardBeat needs to please keep this on front burner. How about an update from Mayor Ryan so we voters can pressure the locals?

  16. SFlCop says:

    So they have implemented regional 911 and it’s a disaster, primarily because BSO has got to be one of the worst managed agencies there is.