Broward County | 20120402
Broward County Commissioners have taken the next step to create a countywide 911 emergency dispatch system to improve public safety with shared funding that is fair and equitable. The goal is to eliminate emergency calls that are misdirected or need to be transferred under the current system and if possible save money through economies of scale and combined operations.
The Commission has agreed to follow recommendations outlined in the final report of the Broward County Consolidation Committee. Recommendations include consolidating the current 11 dispatch centers into three geographically separate dispatch centers; creation of a governing board that includes full representation of participating jurisdictions; performance measures based on best practices exceeding national standards where possible; funding that is equitable, predictable and stable; creation of an implementation committee to determine and identify all details necessary to establish a countywide dispatch system.
“I really believe that we took this light years from where we were to where we are today. The momentum is there. We can do this as a community. We must do this as a community,” said Broward County Commissioner Lois Wexler, who served as co-chair of the Consolidation Committee along with City of Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan.
“The greatest single reason we need to pursue this is not economics. It is improving public safety,” Mayor Ryan told the Commission.
Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca served as a member of the Consolidation Committee along with the Broward Sheriff, city managers, police and fire chiefs, mayors and city commissioners and an emergency medicine expert. During a four-month period, there were 24 meetings with more than 300 hours dedicated to information gathering, analysis and debate.
“This is the opportunity for us to at least move forward and put it in their hands to get into the details,” said Commissioner LaMarca, referring to the establishment of an implementation committee. “One of the most important things that government does is to protect domestic tranquility.”
A number of Commissioners emphasized the immediate need to develop a new way to fund dispatch services. Broward County currently provides $19 million in funding to BSO that pays for the unincorporated area and a number of cities, but not others. Several cities currently fund and operate their own dispatch systems.
“It’s about fairness, everybody paying for the system they’re getting service for,” said Mayor John E. Rodstrom, Jr., noting that the city of Fort Lauderdale recently paid $4 million to the Broward Sheriff’s Office to continue dispatch services.
“It’s going to be a very simple decision and it comes down to how much will it cost and how is it going to be paid for,” said Commissioner Sue Gunzburger.
“The fairness issue in my mind is that it is a system we all depend on no matter where we are from, where we are at any given time. Let’s make sure we don’t have smaller cities and poorer communities carrying a burden beyond their means,” said Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness.
Commissioner Ilene Lieberman discussed a number of issues she deemed most important, which included funding, implications of closing some dispatch centers, the ability of cities to pay, required staffing and the location of dispatch centers once consolidated.
“We are very hopeful that as we move through this next phase of the process, that this is all vetted, this is all reviewed, and then a determination of who might want to be in it. Because that’s what the formula for dollar success would be based on. Once we know that, then this group will determine if it is worth going forward. I believe that ultimately it will be,” said Commissioner Wexler.
The Broward County Consolidation Implementation Advisory Board (BCCIAB), which will be comprised of city managers/administrators from interested cities, the County administrator, the Broward Sheriff, and a representative from the Broward County Police Chiefs Association and the Broward County Fire Chiefs Association, will submit a draft report to the Commission by November 15, 2012, and a final report no later than February 1, 2013.