John Dejung, a UW-Madison graduate who has worked the past 12 years as 911/311 director for the city of Minneapolis, has been named director of the Dane County Public Safety Communications Center, County Executive Kathleen Falk announced Thursday.Dejung comes with some pretty damn impressive credentials:
The Minneapolis 911 Center was awarded the 911 Call Center of the Year for 2008 by the 911 Institute for its handling and emergency response coordination of the Interstate 35 bridge collapse in 2007, according to a news release.The article goes on to note that Dejung spent some years as a Coast Guard officer as well. Between that and everything listed above, he sounds like absolutely the right person for the job, and I commend the county for hiring him at a time when the center desperately needs qualified, quality leadership. It definitely signals that someone, somewhere is taking seriously the public's outcry over how the center has been handled in the recent past.
Dejung oversaw millions of dollars in technical upgrades to the Minneapolis 911 Center including the 2006-07 replacement of that center's computer aided dispatch system.
He has served as president of the Minnesota Chapter of the National Emergency Number Association, was two-year chair of a 911 national industry group called the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials, and also served as chair of the Minnesota Metropolitan 911 Board Technical Operations Committee.
I am optimistic (but reserving further judgment until things actually start happening) that the necessary upgrades in equipment and procedure will be made, and that hopefully we can completely avoid tragic situations like the Zimmermann and Lake Edge Park cases in the future. This is, of course, the kind of person who should have been hired years ago, and it's important to continue to look for honest answers and accountability for what has happened.
But this would appear to be a big step in the right direction. I wish Dejung and everyone else honestly dedicating themselves to this work all the best.