Sunrise Mayor: Save Money By Consolidating 911…Now


Do tough budget times mean we have to reduce the quality of service for our residents in order to save taxpayer dollars?  Not necessarily.

When it comes to emergency 911 communications and dispatch of police and fire, smart cooperative consolidation can improve service and save a significant amount of taxpayer dollars.

The idea is not novel and is finally coming to Broward County.

The Lost Decade?

In 2002, a whopping 80 percent of the Broward County voters passed a referendum demanding consolidation of emergency 911 communications and dispatch services so closest fire-rescue unit will respond to serious emergencies, no matter what city name is on the outside of the rescue truck.

The voters understood what the rescuers always knew … minutes matter.

As a result, the Broward County charter was amended:

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. (emphasis added)

A decade later, while work has been done to improve interoperability; we are not there … yet.

Cooperative Consolidation of CommunicationsIs desirable, feasible and will improve service

In October 2010, a lengthy and detailed feasibility study of the current communications system proved the obvious: with 13 different E-911 and dispatch centers in Broward County, consolidation into 3 centers would reduce the need for E-911 call transfers, improve safety for emergency responders, improve consistency of E-911 call handling and dispatch, and improve interoperability amongst participating agencies.

Most of the high volume E-911 calls and dispatch centers were not even rated beyond “category 2” for hurricanes.  Imagine the consequences of that.

In the age of cell phones, some people do not use land-based home phones.  Their E-911 calls for help from a child’s bedroom or a backyard will likely be from a cell phone. However, their cry for help may not even go to the E-911 center in their city.  That routing problem creates more delay as the call must then be transferred to a different dispatch center.

Simply put, with consolidation of E-911 and dispatch communications, your police and fire-rescue personnel would get to you quicker, with fewer errors, and that is good!

The projected monetary savings for taxpayers county-wide is staggering, estimated to be over $100,000,000 over the next decade.  Because it would need to be phased in and the employee attrition rate in communications is so high, consolidation is technically and logistically achievable without losing jobs.

The Professionals Know Cooperative Communications Consolidation Must Happen

 The Broward County Chiefs of Police Association and the Fire Chiefs of Broward County Association recently examined the evidence, considered the current communications situation and passed resolutions stating that cooperative consolidation of 911 communications and dispatch

  • is technically feasible, desirable and will improve service;
  • will reduce delay in transfer of emergency calls;
  • will result in faster emergency response times;
  • will enhance interoperability and coordination amongst responding agencies; and
  • will result in fewer errors due to standardized call handling and dispatch protocols;

Recognizing there are models of cooperative consolidation in our state and all around the country to draw upon, both the police and fire chiefs associations recommended an implementation team begin work towards consolidation.

This week, the Public Safety Committee of the Broward League of Cities also passed a resolution in support of cooperative consolidation and recommended an “Implementation Team” begin the work of building the model.

So what’s next?

County and Cities Must Move Forward With Deliberate Speed To Implement the Will of the Voters

 Many believe the County and the Broward League of Cities must work together to construct a deliberative but expeditious plan for implementation.  That plan must include a governance structure which provides accountability to and input from each participating agency.  The command structure must be unified to provide consistent metrics, training, staffing and accountability.  Funding must be equitable and fair.

There are those cities who may want to keep their own dispatch centers.  Under the idea of “opt-in”, the prerogative of going it alone under “Home Rule” can be preserved so long as the communication systems can “talk” to each other.  All residents and visitors, particularly in a transient urban setting, are entitled to the best public safety service possible.  Over time, those who want to go it alone may wish to join.

The next step, as one of my colleagues stressed, is for us, the electeds, to leave our parochial interests at the door, roll-up our sleeves, and do what the voters expect of us – with our guidance and input, let the professionals in public safety come up with a smart and fair plan to improve public safety service, reduce errors, eliminate built-in delays in the system, and save a tremendous amount of taxpayer dollars overall.

With that type of refreshing philosophy, I, for one, think we can do it.  If I am wrong, it will not be because this idea can not work.  However, now is our time to see what can be done … together.


(Michael Ryan was elected mayor of Sunrise in March, 2010. A partner in the Fort Lauderdale-based law firm of Krupnick Campbell Malone, Ryan has long been interested in improving the delivery of fire services to the public.  

He has been the PTA president at his children’s school and a coach in youth athletics.  His is married to Shirlie and has two children, 12 and 10.)

28 Responses to “Sunrise Mayor: Save Money By Consolidating 911…Now”

  1. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:


    Mayor Ryan is on target with this issue. A more efficient and cost effective consolidaiton of Broward’s 911 dispatch services is long overdue and will improve service delivery measurably while saving taxpayer dollars. It will quicken response times for both fire rescue and police dispatch.

    That’s because of the elimination of the call transfer process. When you dial 911, you need your phone calling a center that can directly dispatch — not just anwer your emergency call. Call transfers waste precious time that can save your life. Pembroke Pines we went to direct dispatch and saw our already solid response times become even quicker. On average, Pines Fire Rescue responds in 3 minutes and 23 seconds. That is very fast, by any standard. Police arrests in Pines are way up because we are catching more criminals in the act because we do our own dispatch and our cops can get to the scene faster. That’s what you can expect when you eliminate call transfer delays.

    Broward has long needed three dispatch centers to handle our volume — South, Central and North. They dispatch all providers directly within their service area. It’s faster, cheaper and gives us better service. Experts have been saying this to Broward for well over 20 years now.

    That’s why, as a member of the 2000 Broward Charter Review Commission, we introduced language that into the county charter to make this happen at long last. It was adopted by voters because they also want faster, more reliable service at lowered cost to taxpayers.

    The time to act is now without further delay. Mayor Ryan is spot on correct.



  2. resident says:

    Good job Mayor for shedding light on this issue again. I know the Mayors and police chiefs and fire chiefs love the idea of put residents and taxpayers first. You are all to be congradulated for not letting this fall to the waste side again.

  3. Sam says:

    Why don’t they consider consolidating all their other services (police and Fire Rescue)?? That would just make too much sense, wouldn’t it?!! The studies have been done!! These politicians need to stop playing games with our tax dollars!! Seriously.

  4. Fire Fighter Jerry says:

    We are with you, mayor. You are right about communications consolidation. It would save considerable money and make the service delivery better. A win win.

  5. Mr. Mulligan says:

    Has anybody considered the privatization of 911 or the entire fire department? This is done in other parts of the country and I don’t hear anything about wholesale loss of life or property.

  6. Resident says:

    Let me know if I understand this.

    Doesn’t Sunrise have its own system that its taxpayers paid to install and pay for its operations, like a few other cities. The remaining cities are with the county and their taxpayers don’t pay for it, except through county taxes.

    If true, if everyone consolidates their service, would it save Sunrise money? Would Sunrise sell their system, or just shut it down?

    But wouldn’t the county start charging all the cities that haven’t had to pay, so taxpayers in those cities start paying more to the city for this service? If so, where are they going to find the money to pay it? Raise taxes more?

    Wouldn’t it be far better just to eliminate all city fire and police, and consolidate the entire public safety system. That way we only will have one system paid through the county. Cities will be out of the public safety business altogether. After all, that is where it is headed. Is that what you see the future is?

  7. Tom says:

    I am a 57 year old heart attack survivor and my survival can be directly related to public service 911 emergency responders in the city of Tamarac.My family and I are forever grateful.
    I am all for consolidation of dispatch centers and city/county services.However,cost cutting with the privatization of vital services in my opinion for paramedics,firefighters and police is not in the best interest of the public.Private companies do not work for free and their main objective is making money not public service.This may work in the private sector but lets not rely on it in life or death situations.Personally, I do not want a security guard or a private ambulance coming to my emergency.Have we forgotten about Sept 11 already? Seems nobody has a problem with athletes making millions, but since the economy has become weak every time I pick up the newspaper something negative is being said about the police and firemen/women.I am passionate because I am forever grateful because of my experience.If municipalities need to tighten their belts that is fine,but not at the expense of public safety.Lets stop beating down our emergency workers that will be there when we need them.

  8. #1 Democrat for Justice says:

    Angelo you are quick to jump on and say congrats to others ideas..where are yours?

  9. Professional says:

    Hey Mr. Mulligan,
    Be careful what you wish for. Because in the end, you get what you pay for.

  10. Smart Move says:

    Police and fire pensions have been generous to the point that eyebrows are being raised. However there is a clear sense of envy that is going on in this discussion about pensions that can’t be dismissed. That emotion does not assist in the proper evaluation of public expenditures.

    Since about 1990 the average rate of growth of American private sector salaries are at an all time low. Here is an article among many that helps bring that fact home

    Why is this important?

    For decades, the paradigm in government has been that workers accept less than average pay today in return for better than average pensions tomorrow. This keeps taxes low and better pensions are supposed to be paid for, in large measure, by growth in the American markets in which pension funds are invested. Government salaries only crept up in relation to the consumer price index.

    Private sector pay is supposed to be based on the reverse paradigm. Comparatively lousy pensions in return for more salary, bonuses and incentives today. It’s been that way for decades until the last boom. In the last economic upswing was unlike those before it in that we enjoyed low unemployment but also record low salary growth. Corporations kept a much greater share of profits, sharing less with workers.

    Meanwhile, government plodded along giving our cost of living increases, 2% or 3% per year, and suddenly the government pay caught up with private sector and in some cases started exceeding private sector pay. Why newspapers don’t write about this phenomenon is unclear however that is EXACTLY what has taken place in the American marketplace over the past twenty years.

    The predictable result during a difficult recession? Private sector worker revolt against government employee pay. They are envious of the contrast and the pain they feel is understandable. However, in a moment of briefly sustained emotional control, one has to question the logic of that reaction. Shouldn’t the worker be looking to improve their lot in life not diminish it?

    I am NOT saying that some of the government pension examples printed by newspapers are acceptable. I am saying the following:

    — The American worker clearly got stiffed in salary structure over the past 20 years.

    — The government pay and pension scale cannot continue to move past the traditional paradigm.

    — Our outrage needs to be aimed at where it belongs, not just at those identified instances of government waste but also at a stingy private sector that has not shared profits with the workers that produce them to the same extent that they have done historically.

    — I’d like to see a lot more outrage the next time a corporate CEO is offered a $500 million golden parachute as we aim at a retired fire captain earning 70% pay in retirement.

    — I actually saw a comment in the newspaper that our police and fire fighters should be forced to work until age 65 like everybody else. Is that woman insane? Do you really think a 65 year old can carry me down a flight of burning stairs or chase down a young drug dealer running away? Emergency response jobs are for the young and the fit. These are incredibly dangerous jobs where fatalities are anticipated in the course of the job. You have to pay someone to risk their lives to save yours.

    This entire line of thinking needs to be re-examined.

  11. Mayor Mike Ryan says:

    We know minutes matter in an emergency. Today, we are at a historic moment to make a difference for someone we may never meet, but who could also be our loved one in need of those precious minutes.

    Despite the fact our voters in 2002 were out in front demanding this important public safety improvement, there are now other areas of the state and country ahead of us:

    We are an urban area that thrives on robust movement of residents and visitors across municipal borders for our economic prosperity. There is no reason every resident and visitor should receive anything less the best designed, quickest, and most uniform response to an emergency.

    I believe, given the IRREFUTABLE expected improvement in response times by eliminating built-in delay, and the ENORMOUS projected overall dollar savings for taxpayers, there is only one course: work towards cooperative consolidation of communications, demand representative governance of that communications structure, ensure unified command with accountability, and establish equitable funding that takes into account the entire economic situation including the enormous savings overall.

    Fortunately, we can accomplish this now in a cooperative communications model that is neither novel nor entirely unique.

  12. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    #1 Democrat:

    That’s very funny. Thanks for the chuckle!



  13. sunriseoversite says:

    Nice way to kick off your election cycle. You have now become a politician some would say a good one. Let’s see if you stay that way. There are some thing that you still need to address in the city.

  14. Sunrise Resident says:

    Mayor Ryan better watch out. Alu is in bed with the fire union in more than one way. She’ll co-opt his message and claim it is hers.

  15. LOKI says:

    Hahahahaha….. buddy you should watch the lastest budget meeting from sunrise where shelia is giving the city manager a good olde fashion tongue lashing. Hahahahha. Don’t. You threaten me she said. Hahaha I could feel that slap from my t.v. It must have hurt just from the embarassment alone. Hey shelia, slap him a few more times we all know he deserves it. Gotta hand it to her she has more balls then the men sitting next to her that’s for sure.

  16. To LOKI says:

    Sheila Alu is a destructive force. She never has anything to say about improving government. All she does is tear down and criticize. There is plenty to criticize about her.

  17. vivi says:

    Mayor Mike Ryan is doing a fine job consolidating 911, police department and fire department under one roof with help from other commissioners. The Mayor plans on saving money for the residence!

  18. amanda hug says:

    HAHAHAHAH She has balls like a guy and she LOOKS like a dude

  19. electric jack says:

    Its not only Sunrise that has its own dispatcher, so does Cooper City, Pembroke Pines, Miramar has 11 paid positions that with some luck 1 day the city commission will transfer them to the county where they really belong…Police in these cites go thru the 911 system so should the fire depts but the city managers refuse to do that…….

  20. Smart Move says:

    The county is exactly where you don’t want to be with dispatch. Even the Sheriff agrees. It needs to be a regional function directly linked and authorize to dispatch whatever department is within that region. Consolidation is the answer to faster and more reliable response at reduced cost to the taxpayer.

  21. NoseBleedSeats says:

    What Mayor Ryan isn’t telling us is he has a new dispatch PSAP in his new Public Safety building he would very much like Broward County to pay the staffing costs for. He is correct about regionalism, but his motives are not entirely pure.

  22. Pines says:

    Hey Angello,

    Don’t you have things to do for us in Pines, other than jump on another Mayor’s bandwagon and try to make it seem like you are part of it from 2000. You haven’t been on that board for 10 years.

    You don’t ever come up with any good ideas for our City, but are always putting your nose in other Cities and peoples business.

    You better worry about Pines and your next election because we will be getting a few people to run against you. We kept you off the County Commission and next it’s Pines.

  23. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    Dear Pines,

    I jump on whatever bandwagon makes common sense. So much around us is lies and nonsense. I’m proud of Mayor Ryan for hitting the ground running in Sunrise and I’ve told him so at our meetings together. He’s got lots of great ideas and that’s what Broward needs from leaders today.

    And you’re right, nobody should misinterpret that I’ve been advocating for consolidated dispatch since 2000. That would be incorrect. I’ve actually been at it since 1998 when Broward Fire Rescue was managed within the county human services department which I headed as director. Buddy was the Sun Sentinel reporter at the time. To be sure, I wasn’t the first to discover the idea and thanks to guys like Mike Ryan I won’t be the last.

    In fact, if we go back to the top 3 issues of 1998 in Broward County, they included (1) Airport Expansion (2) Convention Center Hotel and (3) Coordinating Closest Unit Response through Dispatch. Funny…all these years later we haven’t got any of them done.

    Anyhow, I digress.

    As to elections and such, none of that stuff phases me. I’m perfectly happy living out whatever destiny has in store. I learned long ago not to worry about tomorrow and instead focus on what I’m doing right now. The best hatched plans for tomorrow are still a guess. What you do with your time today, that you have lots of control over.



  24. John Fusaro says:

    Mayor Ryan has great ideas. Regional communication is worth looking at. Regional police and fire is worth looking at also. We are quick to say “no” but those who are small minded have

  25. Andrew Ladanowski says:

    Consolidating 911 services is definitly makes sense and has potentially great savings. We need to run as efficient as possible and reduce costs in providing these services. Also gives an opportunity to purchase the most advanced technology to consulidate and reducce cost with improving service.

  26. Lynda says:

    Mayor Ryan,
    You have done so many wonderful things for Sunrise residents. I told my friends and family to vote for you, and they wouldn’t regret it. Thanks, we are pleased with the improvements.

  27. Mayor Mike Ryan says:

    UPDATE: The Broward City County Managers Association and the Fire Rescue Services Council have each separately passed resolutions endorsing the Public Safety Committee’s resolution in support of cooperative consolidation of communications.

    All the hard work and advocacy of many over the years has resulted in this momentum towards finally implementing a cooperative communications model meant to improve service, eliminate unnecessary delay in call transfers, and do so more economically for our taxpayers.

    P.S. Thanks for the kind words but this has been a team effort of many over the years who have been advocating, studying and working to find a solution. Many deserve credit for the work to this stage, and many will deserve credit for the labor necessary to finalize a cooperative plan.

  28. WindyCity911 says:

    The Mayor is spot on. The consolidation and eventual privatization of 911 centers IS the future, it’s what I’ve focused on the for the last 8 years in the public sector and what the company I work for now does.

    Even if money weren’t the driving force that it is, technology is changing too quickly for many municipalities to keep up adequately.

    Consolidation will not only create an economy of scale in the form of cash savings, but it will ALSO create an economy of scale of service to the residents AND the responders who answer the calls.

    I’ve seen it (and done it) time and again.

    The one caveat I would offer is that when the boards come together and this plan begins to truly take shape that there be records set in the levels of transparency the group allows. Coming together will fundamentally change operations is some small way for all stakeholders, and the absolute KEY to success is to achieve buy-in first from the line personnel who will be interfacing with the system most frequently, THEN from the public.

    Show them all how it will work, how it will benefit them and how it will save lives. Make them understand it, allow meaningful input and above all, listen. To the operators, to the responders, to the residents and to the experts you hire.

    I’ve seen that NOT happen and the end result is not only bad, it’s dangerous.