Editorials

When it comes to 911, there's no rush in Madison County

Want to check the status of Madison County's work to merge 16 emergency dispatch centers into eight? Here's what the web site says.
Want to check the status of Madison County's work to merge 16 emergency dispatch centers into eight? Here's what the web site says.

You've gotta love the scene in the animated movie "Zootopia" when the main characters are in a hurry and must go to the DMV, only to find it is staffed entirely by sloths. If you haven't seen it, look it up — or head to Madison County's 911 board.

The same sloth scene is playing out in Madison County, where leaders slow walked the state deadline for merging the 16 emergency call centers to eight and then slow talked a judge's deadline for coming up with a plan.

July 1, 2016, was the state deadline for Illinois' largest counties to say how they would cut their call centers by half. July 1 of last year was the deadline to actually do it.

St. Clair County hit the marks, reducing eight dispatch centers to four.

Madison County missed the deadline for their plan, got a judge to give them until January 2017, missed that deadline and finally have given the state the actual consolidation plan.

The county's Emergency Telephone System Board of Directors just ousted the director, Terence McFarland, not for his performance on this effort but because he's been on medical leave since July and is out of leave. His successor, Interim Director Dana Burris, said she wouldn't blame McFarland for the slow response to the state mandate.

She said: "It's just a process. It doesn't happen overnight."

No. It. Certainly. Does. Not. Happen. Overnight.

Unless you're 20 miles to the south of Edwardsville.

At least there's a plan now, although there is no reason that Madison County needs eight call centers. St. Clair County does the job with four, and handles a 50 percent higher call volume.

What should have happened was that Madison County saved taxpayers by cutting dispatchers, overhead and administration. The public should have gotten better service as they bought improved technology more often because there were many fewer units to purchase.

The attitude has been all wrong all along in Madison County, with the added insult of sloth.

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