Friday, November 7, 2008

Who you gonna call?

I am losing patience with County Executive Kathleen Falk and with the boards that manage our 911 center. It seems as though no matter how many expensive studies resulting in admonitions to immediately add more staff are conducted, proper measures just are not taken. Or they are, but only after protracted foot dragging.

And more mistakes--mistakes with terrible consequences--are made.

Case-in-point: the recent failure of a 911 operator to dispatch police to the scene of not one, but two noise complaints. Just over an hour later, a man was found beaten to death in the area from where the complaints originated.

Not to play too much of a game of "if only," but it strikes me (and many others, I'm sure) that this death could have been avoided, and perhaps the perpetrator in the Zimmermann case apprehended, if the county had simply followed the recommendations of the intial report from back in 2004. Instead, it's 2008 and the center still hasn't implemented the necessary policy changes and increased staffing levels necessary to properly handle calls.

It's difficult to expect the public to have complete trust in the system with results like these.

The resignation of former 911 center director Joe Norwick was all well-and-good, but we need additions, not subtractions: more staff, better training, clearer procedural policies. And we need Falk to face the issues honestly, without sugarcoating. None of this "Falk said the report confirmed that the county is on the right track by adding the staff she included in her budget to address overtime" crap.

I understand the need to make yourself and the county look good to the public, but seriously, own up. We may be on the "right track" but we still haven't done everything we could have and should have. Is it a matter of not having enough money for all of the needed positions? Then say so! We can better address problems if we know what they actually are. Don't dance around the issue by boasting about adding only half of the recommended positions. Asking for upgraded software is good, but it's not enough.

And don't just continue to ask for more studies. We've already been given several similar recommendations. We know what to do. Now it's just a matter of actually, y'know, doing it.

For the resortation of trust in the dispatch system, and for the safety of the community.


Cam said...

I'm not one to defend Falk (or any other government official or entity) but I think in this situation it is important to avoid knee jerk reactions to solving the problem. As I understand the problems with the 911 dispatch center as found by the recent audit have had to do with being understaffed, lacking the proper software, and lacking continuity of procedures between the various departments associated with the dispatch center. More staff and updated software have been requested for next years budget. It's my opinion that its better to implememnt these changes as properly as possible and not as fast as possible.

That being said; it is an absolute tragedy that in a county that is as affluante as ours that this kind of shit is going on. There is absolutly no excuse for letting the 911 dispatch system deteriorate to anything less than one of the nations best. Unfortunatly it has, lets fix it properly instead of quickly.

Em Richards said...

I'm not one to advocate sacrificing quality instead of speed; but yes, you can have both.

The Lost Albatross