Brookhaven Police Chief Gary Yandura told City Council on March 11 that he believes using ChatComm to dispatch 911 calls would be better for residents and police officers.
“Response times will be vastly improved,” Yandura said.
Currently, DeKalb County provides the city’s emergency dispatch service. If the council votes to join ChatComm, Brookhaven would follow other new cities that have chosen to drop county-provided 911 for the private service.
The Chattahoochee River 911 Authority, or ChatComm, is a public-private partnership operated by the cities of Sandy Springs and Johns Creek, and iXP Corporation. The city of Dunwoody is a ChatComm subscriber, but does not own a stake in the operation.
City Manager Marie Garrett told the City Council that the city would potentially stop using DeKalb County’s emergency dispatch service and begin a contract with ChatComm between Aug. 1 and Sept. 30.
The council is scheduled to vote at its March 25 meeting on whether to join ChatComm.
Yandura said he has not been satisfied with DeKalb’s 911 service. He said there have been complaints of delays on emergency calls. He’s also logged 64 complaints from officers, who say they aren’t able to communicate with dispatchers once they are on a call.
“They don’t have enough dispatchers,” Yandura said. “We have a lot more officers than DeKalb [police] actually did in the city of Brookhaven [before the start of the city].”
Yandura said ChatComm officials say they would hire two more operators to accommodate the increased call volume from Brookhaven.
Council members also discussed concerns about ChatComm brought to their attention by former Dunwoody City Councilman Danny Ross.
Like Dunwoody, Brookhaven does not have its own fire department and is still served by DeKalb County Fire & Rescue. Therefore, fire and emergency medical calls would be answered by ChatComm and then transferred to DeKalb County for dispatch. Police calls, which make up the majority of 911 calls, would be dispatched directly through ChatComm.
Ross said he worries that the delay caused by the need to transfer the call, known as the “one-button transfer,” puts residents at risk.
Ross advocates for the development of a computer-automated dispatch system, known as a “CAD-to-CAD,” that would automatically send information from ChatComm to DeKalb County computers, speeding up the dispatch process for fire and emergency medical calls.
But Dunwoody’s system has been under development for more than two years, and still isn’t complete.
Joe Estey of iXP Coroporation, which manages ChatComm, said that Dunwoody’s attempts to set up a CAD- to-CAD system “have not gone particularly well.”
“It continues to be under development,” Estey said, describing the trouble getting the system running as a “translation issue.”
Yandura said he prefers the one-button transfer method. He said other nearby DeKalb cities, including Chamblee and Doraville, use this method.
“The one-button transfer is the national standard,” Yandura said. “It’s worked well.”
Yandura said in the one-button transfer system, an operator stays on the phone with the caller while it’s being transferred, which he sees as a benefit.
“I’d much rather have a human person on the phone to give comfort to the person that needs it,” Yandura said.