OPED: York County leaders 'not AWOL' on 911 center issues

York Dispatch
An employee talks with a co-worker at the York County 911 Center Monday, July 31, 2017. County spokesman Mark Walters and lead training supervisor Roxie Tate talked with the media Monday, Feb. 26 regarding recent problems with the center's paging system. Bill Kalina photo

In response to Dallastown Borough Council President Ron Smith’s letter, the County of York, on behalf of the commissioners, human resources and 911 administration, would like to first state that our 911 deputy director has reached out to Mr. Smith to discuss his concerns about our 911 center.

We, as county leaders, are not AWOL. We have been intimately involved with creating a better working environment at the York County 911 center. We have met with all three shifts of dispatchers and call takers to ask them what we can do to improve their work place.

We, as 911 administrators, are in touch with several call centers in Pennsylvania who face similar issues with regard to staffing shortages and overtime demands. We constantly review ways to make staff more effective with public safety and the safety of all first-responders at the forefront.

Furthermore, York County’s 911 center was audited this year by the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. The county’s center was found to exceed state standards.

We believe several changes made in the recently approved union contract will continue to attract qualified candidates and maintain the county’s dedicated dispatchers. We are open to suggestions from the employees and the union, as we want the center to be best-positioned for success for the public and our employees.

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We have enhanced our training program for new hires by implementing time on the dispatch floor so trainees can witness in action what they’re learning in the classroom.

It is troubling that whenever a former employee quits and has an ax to grind, news outlets rush to make it front-page news. That fuels wrong-headed and alarmist outcries like Mr. Smith’s letter.

As public officials, we are accountable to the public. We encourage people to become part of the solution rather than spur outrage by pointing fingers.

For anyone who would like to learn more about our 911 center and how it functions, we welcome the public to our open house. It is from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 13, at the center’s 120 Davies Drive location in Springettsbury Township. There will be tours of the 911 center for the public.

Yours in public service,

York County Commissioners Susan Byrnes, Doug Hoke and Chris Reilly

York County Human Resources Executive Director Kristy Bixler

York County 911 Director Jacqui Brininger

York County 911 Deputy Director Tim Caldwell