Follow Us:

Aug 2009
Schwarzenegger ends furloughs for CHP's 911 system

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger responded Thursday to a slackened California Highway Patrol 911 response system and ordered that furloughs of the agency's dispatchers be rescinded.

"The California Highway Patrol has been working very hard to manage furloughs operationally, and we have been monitoring this very closely," gubernatorial spokeswoman Rachel Cameron said. "The governor decided he is not willing to take the risk of 911 calls not being answered and has exempted 911 CHP dispatchers effective Sept. 1."

Schwarzenegger's action followed reports in The Bee earlier this year of deteriorated response times on the part of the nearly 900 CHP dispatchers who work in 24 call centers around the state.

Standards set by the National Emergency Number Association maintain that 911 dispatchers answer incoming calls within 10 seconds 90 percent of the time.

In March, nine of the centers, mostly located in the state's larger cities and ones that handle 75 percent of all the emergency calls coming into the agency, failed to meet the standard.

As a possible result of the slow dispatcher response times, more than 177,000 callers - or 26 percent of the statewide total - hung up before anybody answered.

CHP dispatchers in recent years have become more crucial than ever to the state's 911 response system because the agency handles the bulk of all the requests coming in on cell phones.

According to CHP officials, the delays in the agency's 911 dispatcher response resulted mostly from their elimination of a screening system in the larger-city call centers.

They said they had managed the furloughs in the dispatch centers to keep them from having an impact on dispatcher response times.

Assemblywoman Norma Torres, D-Pomona, herself a Los Angeles police dispatcher who is on leave while she holds office, has pushed for the rescission of the furloughs.

She welcomed the governor's decision.

"Furloughing dispatchers never made sense," Torres said. "I have had months of discussions with officials in the Highway Patrol and the administration.

"I am happy the people of California can count on improved emergency response and a greater degree of safety when there is an emergency," Torres said.

Tina Brazil, president of the California Highway Patrol Public Safety Dispatchers Association, an affiliate of the California Statewide Law Enforcement Association, said, "We will now be able to improve the performance of the 911 system."



Related News