UPDATE: Madison files court action to stop county's 911 plan - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Non-emergency calls at 911 Center to automation Saturday

MADISON (WKOW) -- Non-emergency calls coming into Dane County's 911 Center will begin going to an automated phone tree Saturday, although a Dane County judge barred the county from transferring significant dispatch responsibilities to the city of Madison in the process.
 
Judge Juan Colas granted the city a temporary injunction as the result of rare legal battle between the city and county.   County officials had wanted the city to handle the dispatch of dozens of non-emergency, parking violation calls a day to free up 911 operators to more exclusively handle emergencies.   But Colas agreed with city officials setting up a dispatch system on short notice would be too much of a burden.
 
During Friday's hearing, Dane County executive Kathleen Falk's testimony referenced the murder of UW student Brittany Zimmermann.   A call from Zimmermann's cell phone was mishandled by a 911 operator, leading to intense scrutiny of 911 center problems, staffing and technology upgrades, and a consultant's audit.
 
Falk testified one of the consultant's two top recommendations was to establish an automated phone tree for non-emergency calls within sixty days.   Falk testified the idea has been discussed between county and city officials for months.   911 Center director John Dejung testified a planned December implementation was pushed back.
 
But Madison city attorney Michael May said the public center dispatch board has final say over center practices, and the board has not approved implementation of the automated system, nor the shifting of the dispatch on Madison parking problems to the city.   May said Falk did not have the legal authority to unilaterally institute the proposed changes.
 
Colas said county officials could go ahead with the phone tree system for non-emergency calls, but operators would still have to be available to dispatch authorities for Madison parking violation cases, which number about 12,000 per year and represent about 10% of the center's call volume.
 
Falk hailed the decision because it allowed the beginning of the automated phone tree and would save some operator time to devote to emergency calls.
 
Madison mayor Dave Cieslewicz said the beginning of the automated attendant without the shift of a massive dispatch responsibility to the city would give the center's stakeholders time to work on more solutions, such as a 311 system for non-emergency calls.   But both city and county officials conceded such a system was at least two years away.
 
The new automation will still allow callers to navigate to a live, 911 center operator, even if their call deals with a non-emergency.
 
 MADISON (WKOW) -- A judge has stopped Dane County from forcing City of Madison officials to handle the dispatch of parking violations as the county prepares for the automation of non-emergency calls at the 911 center.

Judge Juan Colas put a temporary injunction in place this afternoon.

Tony Galli is covering the court battle between the city and county and will have more on 27 News at 5, 6, 6:30.

 
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Madison (WKOW) -- City officials Friday filed a request for a restraining order to stop county officials from revising 911 Center policies, and leaving the city with no one to dispatch personnel to parking complaints during the business week.
 
"The County Executive has no authority to implement operating practices unilaterally," City Attorney Michael May wrote.
 
County Executive Kathleen Falk plans to route non-emergency calls about city parking issues and other lower priority calls to an automated answering system to reserve 911 operators to handle emergency calls more exclusively, as a follow up to a consultant's recommendation.   The changes are planned for Saturday.
 
By Monday, there would be no mechanism for automated calls on city parking issues to dispatched.
 
The Dispatch Center Board voted to delay any implementation until at least next month.  But Falk cited her power over matters with significant fiscal effect in overruling the board's decision.
 
May contended the proposed change does not involve significant financial effect but argued it would "transfer to the county executive sole authority" over 911 Center operation, instead of current, shared decision making among government users.
 
A spokesman for Falk has said the proposed change has been discussed for months, and experts agreed 911 operator time should not be tied up handled parking problems.
 
A hearing before Dane County judge Juan Colas will take place at 2 p.m.

Tony Galli is covering developments and the court hearing. For the latest information, stay tuned to our web channel WKOWTV.com and watch 27 News at 5, 6, 6:30 and 10 p.m. 

Email Tony at tgalli@wkowtv.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @galli_wkow

 

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MADISON (WKOW) -- Officials with the city of Madison Friday filed a court action to try to stop Dane County's plan to revise 911 center operation tomorrow to send city parking violation calls to an automated answering system, instead of 911 operators.

The city's court action is scheduled to be the subject of a 2 p.m. hearing before Dane County Circuit Court Judge Juan Colas.

County officials have said tomorrow's plans follow the recommendation of a consultant to cut down on the call burden on 911 operators and free them to handle emergency calls more exclusively.

City officials have said the plan is being implemented without time for Madison to prepare for additional duties, and without sufficient coordination on cost sharing of mutual government services.  County officials have said implementation would only be delayed if city officials paid the county $33,000 to continue to handle the parking calls. City officials have said the plans unfairly penalize Madison, since parking calls of other communities would still be fielded by 911 Center operators.

Tony Galli is covering developments and the court hearing. For the latest information, stay tuned to our web channel WKOWTV.com and watch 27 News at 5, 6, 6:30 and 10 p.m. 

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