Oak Lawn’s new 911 system under fire
By Steve Metsch firstname.lastname@example.org March 13, 2014 7:34PM
Updated: April 15, 2014 6:29AM
Oak Lawn Trustee Bob Streit is raising concerns about the village’s emergency call center, citing a letter from Evergreen Park officials about their concerns about a “series of incidents in the last several weeks” involving allegedly poor 911 service.
Oak Lawn’s emergency dispatchers handle 911 calls for several communities, including Evergreen Park. The center was privatized this year in a cost-cutting move, and many of the dispatchers lost their jobs.
A Feb. 24 letter from Evergreen Park village attorney Michael Cainkar to dispatch center director Kathy Hansen expresses concern over the handling of some calls, including one about a man with a gun in which information allegedly was not included in what a dispatcher told police officers. Cainkar says in the letter that the 911 center’s “recent performance poses a direct threat to both public and officer safety.”
Streit agreed at Tuesday night’s village board meeting, saying, “There’s more. This is the tip of the iceberg.” He said trustees were not told about the complaints by village manager Larry Deetjen and Mayor Sandra Bury.
“This board is supposed to set policy, but it’s impossible to set policy when complaints and issues are hidden from the board. There is no excuse, especially when it comes to the safety of the public and our residents,” Streit said.
Deetjen said the 911 center workers and “our contractor, Norcomm, have nothing but the safety of this community at heart. We handle over 100,000 calls a year (for several communities). We do an outstanding job, but we’re not perfect. We weren’t perfect before the change.”
Despite Cainkar’s letter, Evergreen Park Mayor Jim Sexton said Thursday that he’s pleased with the new 911 system and is certain problems will be worked out.
“We’ve had a few little hiccups with the changeover, and people are trying to make political hay with it. There’s no hay to be made,” Sexton said. “If this had happened a few years back, nobody would have even cared.”
Sexton praised the work of Hansen whom he said “is working with our (police and fire) chiefs and, hopefully, they’ll get those situations rectified. It’s not a big deal at this point.”
After the board meeting Tuesday night, Bury accused Streit, a political foe, of making an occasional dispatch error “into something political and that’s really a shame.”