FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Broward County commissioners could be looking at hiring an outside company to handle 911 calls after the county’s contract with the sheriff’s office expired on New Year’s Day.
There’s been an ongoing battle between commissioners and Sheriff Gregory Tony about how best to handle the troubled 911 system.
Consultants hired by the commission compiled a nearly-130-page report in December outlining issues with the system.
While the report didn’t say who should be in charge of it, the subject has come up once again.
On Sunday, Broward County Administrator Monica Cepera wrote a letter to Tony saying the two parties have reached an “impasse” and the contract expired.
Cepera said “it’s imperative that 911 calls continued to be answered” while the county discusses next steps.
“To that end,” she said, a meeting would need to be scheduled to “plan for an orderly transition.”
Days prior, Tony sent a message telling Cepera that he was willing to sign an extension to manage 911 operations through March 31, but if, and only if, the county fixes certain issues identified in the consultants’ report within the first quarter, or he would “invoice” the costs on a monthly basis.
“I think the sheriff is making a mistake by giving us an ultimatum,” Broward Commissioner Steve Geller said. “I don’t think there’s a single commissioner that wants to do what the sheriff wants, which is to give him a blank check.”
Geller said he hopes Tony will reconsider.
“If the sheriff is reasonable and says, ‘Hey, you know, I thought about it, I still think I’m right, but why don’t we get fully staffed up and then we’ll reconsider this in a year?’ I think that would be better for everybody,” Geller said.
Geller was referring to the ongoing effort to hire more 911 workers, part of the consultants’ recommendations.
He said he hoped the issue would be resolved quickly, but assured residents their 911 calls would still be answered.
What’s up in the air is who 911 operators will work for: BSO or the county?
A spokesperson for BSO said “the dedicated men and women of the Broward Sheriff’s Office Regional Communications Division continue to answer 911 calls and non-emergency calls.”
Another meeting between the two entities is expected to try to iron out their differences.