City Announces Plans To Move Forward With 9-1-1 Consolidation
NEW ORLEANS – Today, the City of New Orleans announced plans to move forward with consolidating 9-1-1 operations after the New Orleans City Council adopted an ordinance authorizing a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement (CEA) with the Orleans Parish Communication District (OPCD).
Currently, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD), New Orleans Fire Department (NOFD) and New Orleans Emergency Medical Services (NOEMS) each manage their own 9-1-1 call-taking and dispatching personnel independently, and OPCD is responsible for housing call-takers in its facility and providing equipment maintenance and support. Under this consolidation, funding, management and responsibility for 9-1-1 operations will be centralized under the OPCD.
“Public safety is our top priority, and 9-1-1 consolidation is another step toward improving our City’s emergency call answering times,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “This comprehensive plan will allow us to provide better, more streamlined service to our residents, and at the same time, offer excellent career growth opportunities for the dedicated call-takers and dispatchers who serve this city every day.”
Col. Terry Ebbert, USMC (Ret.), Chairman of the OPCD Board of Commissioners said, “Our new equipment, training programs, and increased staffing are being designed to ensure that we are bringing the very best tools available that will allow us to meet national standards for 9-1-1 call answer times. I want to thank all OPCD team members, city agencies, and every individual employee involved in this consolidation project for their tremendous professional effort.”
Lt. Col. Jerry Sneed, the City’s liaison for 9-1-1 consolidation at OPCD said, “It was very important for us to put together a thoughtful and responsible consolidation plan, and I’m pleased that the City and OPCD were able to reach an agreement that is in the best interest for our residents and our employees.”
Under the CEA, all 9-1-1 staff working for the NOPD, NOFD and NOEMS will transition to become OPCD employees. OPCD will be responsible for the recruitment and management of 9-1-1 operators, dispatchers, supervisors, and support staff and provide $500,000 per year to support consolidated operations. OPCD will also coordinate with City departments on the development of policies and procedures and continue supporting technology and infrastructure requirements that improve 9-1-1 operational performance.
The City will continue to provide its annual appropriation for personnel and other operating costs that support this consolidation effort. OPCD employees will continue to participate in the City’s retirement and health care plan. Additionally, the City will provide departmental liaisons from the NOPD, NOFD and NOEMS to support 9-1-1 operations and provide subject matter expertise.
The City and OPCD have agreed to honor accumulated leave time, accumulated years of service and merit pay adjustments for employees who transition from the City.
The CEA will expire on December 31, 2016, however, the City and OPCD anticipate modifying this agreement into a multiyear CEA later this year.
Enhanced Public Safety
Consolidating all emergency communications into a single operation will reduce the number of transferred and abandoned calls, streamline automated systems and processes, and implement formal training and quality assurance programs. Cross training current personnel to handle calls for all three agencies will improve call-answering time and bring New Orleans in line with national standards. Employees will also be trained to use new call-taking software, which will ensure call-taker compliance to National Academies of Emergency Dispatch Protocols.
NOPD Superintendent Michael Harrison said, “We are working every day to make our operations more efficient and effective. Consolidating our emergency operations will give us the tools and resources we need to answer emergency calls in a timely manner and match callers with the right emergency responder as quickly as possible. This effort is the next step toward improving customer service and satisfaction for our residents and visitors.”
NOFD Superintendent Timothy McConnell said, “Every second matters when responding to a fire emergency. Consolidation of 9-1-1 operations under one roof will reduce the inefficiencies that result from multiple agencies and departments coordinating emergency calls.”
NOEMS Director Dr. Jeffrey Elder said, “By cross training all our current personnel to handle calls for all three agencies, we will improve coverage and enhance performance, and bring New Orleans in line with national standards. This is a critical step forward in creating a safer city for residents and visitors alike.”
Improved Opportunities for 9-1-1 Personnel
This new agreement will create better opportunities for career advancement and distribute the workload more evenly across all 9-1-1 employees. Under the OPCD, employees will have improved pay scales and career opportunities that are designed to provide more fair compensation for 9-1-1 operators. This plan was developed specifically to combat attrition and to improve recruitment at the 9-1-1 center. Call-takers and dispatchers will also have more opportunities to pursue supervisory and specialist roles. Cross training will not only provide personnel with additional skills, but it will also come with significant increases in base salary for the majority of current personnel.
Next Steps for Consolidation
The City and OPCD have already adjusted shift schedules and begun cross training current 9-1-1 operators and supervisors in preparation for consolidation. The City will now begin taking the necessary administrative actions to transition employees from the City to OPCD.
To accomplish this transition effectively, the City will undertake a procedural layoff process for all employees who perform 9-1-1 functions. This was requested by the 9-1-1 employees and the Civil Service Commission so that employees can have the benefit their names being placed on preferential reemployment registers with Civil Service for two years after leaving City employment.
All employees will transition by May 1, 2016.
The majority of 9-1-1 employees will receive substantial raises in base pay, and none of the employees will experience a reduction in pay. Additionally, the OPCD Board of Commissioners has adopted an employment protection policy that will provide for a progressive system that will safeguard employees’ rights to appeal disciplinary actions to a subset of OPCD Board members.
City Council President Jason Williams said, “We rely on our 9-1-1 operators during the worst moments of our lives. That is why having a well-trained, professional, and sympathetic person on the other end of the line is so important. My hope is that implementing best practices will reduce call-wait times and improve the quality of the service we provide. This plan also provides a career path for call-takers and dispatchers which aims to support them in this stressful profession.”
District D City Councilmember Jared Brossett said, "The concept underlying the 911 consolidation is simple: through the integration of staffing and technology, the City of New Orleans and OPCD can utilize resources much more efficiently and effectively to improve call answering time, reduce the number of transferred and abandoned emergency calls, and quickly dispatch emergency responders. Ultimately, centralizing call center functions is consistent with best practices around the country and will increase the quality and consistency of service our residents receive when they call for emergency assistance.”