(UPDATE) Problems with Broward County’s 911 system have one official calling for a change in leadership. Sheriff Gregory Tony met with county commissioners Tuesday night to discuss complaints of calls not being answered and being dropped due to a 20% drop in staffing. During the heated meeting, Tony asked for almost five million dollars to hire more dispatchers and pay them better, but District Two Commissioner Mark Bogen thinks Tony is to blame. He thinks throwing money at the problem is a huge mistake.
Bogen says when these problems persist year after year, it’s time to look at changing BSO management of 911 dispatch.
Despite objections, Broward commissioners asked the county attorney to come up with a plan to provide BSO with the money for raises, retention and recruiting at emergency dispatch.
A vote to approve Tony’s $4.7 million funding request is expected at the next meeting in two weeks.
Imagine being in a life-or-death situation, dialing 911 and getting no answer. That’s what is happening in Broward county.
Skyrocketing housing costs are forcing Broward dispatchers to flee for higher-paying jobs while 911 calls ring off the hook, Broward County Sheriff Gregory Tony warned commissioners.
There is a nationwide shortage of emergency dispatchers, and Broward County has been hit especially hard. BSO currently has 81 job openings in the communications unit.
On an annual basis, Broward receives and handles about 2.5 million calls for help. Sheriff Tony asked commissioners, “How do we keep the people that we have now? And, how do we fill the vacancies that we currently have?”
Broward County commissioner Mark Bogen alleged that Sheriff Tony has enough money in the BSO budget to give his staff raises.
Tony, however, disagreed and complained about dealing with seven different unions.
“We cant just jump out and give one set of raises to members in our organization without it impacting everyone else,” Tony told commissioners.
Broward Sheriff’s Office claimed that it was focusing on recruitment, raises and retention.
According to 911 dispatcher Shaunte Reid, “The people that are there, we get the job done. Anybody willing to come into this type of career, its very, very fulfilling.”
Commissioners insisted on an immediate solution, but Sheriff Tony stated that he was working on a plan that he will present to the BSO next week.
If you would like to apply for a job with Broward dispatch, click here.
Staff writer Aaron Kahan contributed to this story.