No Deal Reached After Meeting in Greene County Emergency Services

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Greene County Sheriff Steve Smith Greene County Sheriff Steve Smith

The battle continues over who should control emergency 911 services in Greene County.

In December, the county announced it had restructured its office of emergency services, and that it would now be controlled by the Greene County Board of Supervisors.

But Sheriff Steve Smith says the Sheriff's Department should be in charge of the E911 Center, and the employees who work there.

Thursday, county staff met with the sheriff, to try to work things out, but no deal was reached.

A meeting is set for Feb. 13 to decide if the 911 center will need to be moved to another location.

Release from Greene County Board of Supervisors:

1 FEBRUARY, 2018. On Tuesday, February 13th at its regularly scheduled meeting, the Greene County Board of Supervisors will discuss emergency dispatch and work to determine a structure that best meets the needs of our citizens. Action may be taken that evening if it is in the best interest of public safety. The Board will engage in this discussion after multiple attempts to resolve disagreement regarding the county-owned E911 center.
In August, 2016, the county-employed Emergency Services Coordinator (ESC), an employee who was working in the county-owned dispatch center, was informed by the Sheriff that she would no longer be employed as ESC. She was then prevented from entering the county-owned E911 center to fully perform her job. The Sheriff’s action resulted in a staffing and budget problem for his department, and he subsequently filed a lawsuit claiming the county had removed the position from his budget.
The initiation of that lawsuit made it very difficult for the Board and County staff to publicly address this complex situation. In fact, the county has made no change in budget or staffing and has continuously asserted the ESC’s responsibility for oversight of the county-owned E911 center.
On December 19, the County Administrator, with the full support of the Board of Supervisors, sent a memo again clarifying that the County-owned E911 center is under the management and direction of the county Emergency Services Coordinator. This notification did not suggest a separation or relocation of any E911 dispatch services and, in fact, the Board maintains that it changed nothing about the structure. The Sheriff continues to maintain that the fully trained and qualified Emergency Services Coordinator will not be permitted in the county E911 dispatch center to provide management supervision. He also asserts that the Sheriff must have full authority to determine who enters and is employed in the county-owned dispatch center because it is located in the same building the county provides for the Sheriff’s department.
In fact, in late January the Sheriff decided that two compensation board dispatchers who had applied and been transferred to county dispatch would no longer be permitted in the county-owned and managed E911 dispatch center. His action prevented trained E911 dispatchers from performing their job function dispatching fire, rescue and law enforcement personnel to residents in emergencies. The dispatch center then had to be operated by other trained personnel.
Earlier this evening members of county staff and the Board of Supervisors met with the Sheriff in another attempt to resolve this situation. The Sheriff maintains his need to have absolute authority over the county-owned E911 center and the employees who work there, and he maintains his right to refuse entry to county-employed dispatchers and the Emergency Services Coordinator. The Sheriff’s continued assertion of the need for that absolute authority may leave the county with no choice but to find an alternate location for the County’s E911 Center.
Over the last 17 months there have been multiple meetings of county staff, county administration, and members of the Board of Supervisors with the Sheriff and his staff. At all times the county indicated its desire to maintain the location and staffing of the county-owned E911 center under the supervision of the ESC. Those meetings did not result in resolution.
The Greene County Board of Supervisors takes no responsibility more seriously than the safety of our citizens. Despite over a year of efforts to resolve this situation it appears a resolution is not possible and alternatives must be discussed.