Feud grows over 911 Center changes - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Feud grows over 911 Center changes

DANE COUNTY (WKOW) -- Proposed changes to the Dane County 911 Center are creating a feud between the city of Madison and Dane County officials.. and it seems more communities are joining in.

Madison's mayor announced at a press conference Thursday afternoon, backed by nearly a dozen community or police officials from around Dane County, that Madison's city attorney would file a temporary restraining order against the county tomorrow morning, unless the county agreed to discuss its choice to implement a new automatic attendant for non-emergency calls coming into the 911 dispatch center.

That attendant would also divert city of Madison parking calls back to the city, unless the city paid an additional $33,000 fee.

Dave Cieslewicz, Madison's mayor, was backed by these other officers and municipalities when he said he believes having one city pay for a service sets a "dangerous precedent."

Cieslewicz says, "My taxpayers will also pay county taxes, and would pay for parking dispatch in every single Dane County community: but also be charged for that service in their own community."

Chief Noble Wray, of Madison's Police Department, said in a statement, "From a public safety perspective it appears we are taking a step backward, when we all should really be working together to build a strong centralized dispatch center through even greater regionalized ventures, like a countywide interoperable radio system."

The county says 9-1-1 dispatcher's jobs should be about saving lives, not about sending out parking enforcement.

John Dejung, Dane County's 911 Center Director, said later Thursday, "Never in my wildest dreams did I expect a flap of this magnitude would occur over something I believed to be progressive... be responsible."

County officials say a February 2009 audit revealed parking complaints equal about ten percent of dispatcher's calls, or about 50 a day.

Also at the center of this dispute, the 911 Center Board. Tuesday, they voted *not to refer the automated attendant system on- instead they decided to wait until the board's March meeting to proceed with the attendant. Board members questioned the public's knowledge about the attendant.

That same day, the county decided it would still move ahead, even without the approval of the board.

The city has said its open to a response from the County Executive so it won't have to move ahead with this legal action. County officials say the same thing.

City and some 911 Center Board members say the county doesn't have the authority to move forward. The county says it is its fiscal responsibility, to move forward with public safety.

The automated attendant was supposed to be put in place Saturday for all non-emergency calls coming into dispatch.

Online Reporter: Teresa Mackin

Email Teresa tmackin@wkowtv.com

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