A Dunwoody investigation is looking into breaking with DeKalb County’s 911 call center. At a May 10 work session, council members were updated on options that included partnering with other cities or even launching its own center in response to concerns of what one council member described as DeKalb’s “ability to provide an adequate level of service.”
Frequent complaints of inconsistency in response times prompted the investigation. The investigation is assessing the costs of breaking free from the county. DeKalb doesn’t charge Dunwoody for using its 911 center.
“The DeKalb center has provided an inconsistent level of service,” said District 2 City Councilman Robert Wittenstein, responding to The Champion’s e-mail request for comment. “Much of the time the response times are excellent; at other times of the day/week hold times and response times suffer.”
City Manager Warren Hutmacher told council members that a request for an exclusive Dunwoody 911 line was rejected by the county, prompting further investigation of other options.
Initially, options included partnering with Chamblee’s 911 service. However, after further review Chamblee declined further interest. A partnership with Sandy Springs and John’s Creek service, ChatComm 911, is a more likely option and one that has found tentative favor.
However, an initial stumbling block concerns frequency signals. Dunwoody uses digital signals while ChatComm’s is analog, and reconciling the difference would be costly. That could leave the city starting its own center – a scenario that may see a rise in taxes.
“I am concerned with the potential cost of providing our own 911 service or partnering with Sandy Springs and Johns Creek. We will have to make a decision; is the current level of service good enough, or do we want to pay more for a higher level of service?,” said Wittenstein. “To take this in-house or partner with ChatComm will cost the average Dunwoody family $22 per year starting in 2011 and that is not something we will do lightly. I am keeping an open mind as we look at the options.”
In an April 12 memorandum, Hutmacher further criticized the current 911 set up. “Dunwoody calls for service are not given priority over other emergency calls within North Precinct,” he wrote. “When priority calls occur elsewhere in the precinct, Dunwoody calls are delayed…this is a life and death issue for our citizens.”