Thursday, September 23, 2010

Chief Turner will address 911 concerns in Southwest Atlanta

Posted By on Thu, Sep 23, 2010 at 4:48 PM

Sure, your old-school Nokia looks cool, but will it get you the help you need?
  • Sure, your old-school Nokia looks cool, but will it get you the help you need?
Atlanta's 911 system leaves a lot to be desired. A slew of technical discrepancies and staffing issues, not to mention the lack of a functioning APD non-emergency line, have for years wreaked havoc on dispatcher answer times. Chief George Turner admits that in the recent past, callers were forced to wait as long as 45 seconds before a dispatcher answered. Turner asserts that answer times have drastically improved in the past year — on average, Turner says calls are now answered in just seven seconds — and that Mayor Kasim Reed's administration is working on setting up a 311 line for non-emergency calls. Still, problems persist.

Down in Southwest Atlanta — in the recently-annexed subdivisions of Guilford Forest and Regency Park, specifically — residents are dealing with increased dispatcher answer and police response times because a cell tower automatically routes their calls to Fulton County's 911 center. Once they've reached that call center, a dispatcher has to transfer the call to Atlanta's 911 center, wasting seconds, even minutes, that can prove precious in emergency situations.

Chief Turner — along with Deputy Chief Shawn Jones, 911 Communications Center Director Terri Thornberry, Zone 4 Commander Rodney Bryant and Assistant Zone Commander Barbara Cavender — will attend NPU-Q's meeting tonight to "discuss" Guilford Forest and Regency Park residents' concerns over the necessary rerouting of 911 calls. If a press release distributed by the APD is any indication, it doesn't appear that there's a solution to the current conundrum, per se, but officials will offer a recommendation to residents: don't call from a cell phone if you can avoid it. But, as more and more people jettison their landlines, a cell phone might be the only option. In that case, Thornberry says callers should "be prepared — whenever possible — to give a name, a complete address, and as many details about the incident as possible."

NPU-Q meets tonight at 7 p.m. at the Guilford Forest clubhouse, 4770 Guilford Forest Drive.

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