Editorials

Madison County's 911 plan is late, illegal, costs too much. What's the emergency?

St. Clair County telecommunicators handle about 50 percent more call volume with one-third the staff as Madison County’s 16 emergency dispatch centers.
St. Clair County telecommunicators handle about 50 percent more call volume with one-third the staff as Madison County’s 16 emergency dispatch centers. dholtmann@bnd.com

Madison County just can't seem to get a handle on how to consolidate emergency dispatching from 16 down to eight call centers.

Maybe that is because they should be cutting to four, like their neighbor to the south.

State law mandated the largest counties cut their 911 call centers by half. St. Clair County took eight down to four ahead of the deadline. Madison County dragged its heels, got a delay from a judge, missed that deadline and now their late plan appears to be flawed.

St. Clair County's 911 director, Herb Simmons, called them out for failing to follow the law. Instead of establishing actual 911 call centers, Madison County just kept some of their old police stations intact.

Yes, this is highly political, with local cities not wanting to lose control of "their" dispatchers and wanting those municipal employees available for other duties.

But the whole point of consolidation is to save tax dollars while delivering a system that is up to date. The 911 centers need to be able to handle texts and tell where a cellular call is coming from. They need to be able to answer a call for help however it gets to them.

It doesn't make sense to buy that technology 16 times, or even eight times. St. Clair County is up and running just fine with four centers and handles 50 percent more call volume than Madison County.

Madison County leaders need to get with the program. The plan is late and flawed, so get it right and cut to four call centers.

Follow the spirit of the law. Don't try to get away with skirting the law.

  Comments