Little Rock To Increase Staff Pay As 911 Lawsuit Continues

Dec 7, 2015

The City of Little Rock is recommending a 2.5 percent salary increase to city workers including police, firefighters, and 911 call center staff as part of its 2016 budget. 

A recent consultant’s review of the city’s 911 call center found staffing issues are leading to a weaker 911 service. The report said calls to 911 regularly go unanswered.

City Manager Bruce Moore said the call-taker position involves high stress. He said he’s re-approved hiring at the center.

"That's an area because of background checks and testing that has to go on, we're constantly trying to fill those positions," he said. 

A lawsuit has been filed against the city on behalf of a young boy, Le Yang. He died following severe injuries when 911 failed to help him and his mother, Jinglei Yi, in a car accident. She died at the scene.

That suit will go to trial January 5.  It alleges low pay rates contributed to poor retention and incompetency among some staff at the center. 

Here are some recommendations of the APCO report:

1. The taking of crime reports via telephone by 9-1-1 call-takers should be suspended immediately. Some form of a Telephone Reporting Unit should be resurrected but without using communications staff assigned to answer 9-1-1.

2. Fire dispatchers assigned to the fire ground talk-groups should not be responsible for answering 9-1-1 calls while there is fire radio activity on those talk-groups.

3. Assign dispatch staff to a specific position for an eight-hour tour of duty. Decide on a rotation cycle that is for a single day or for a workweek. The only exception to this may be the main police dispatch console position, which may require a relief person more often due to the shear workload of this dispatch position.

4. Assign a relief dispatcher to each shift. This individual should be qualified on both fire and police dispatch and can man the primary or tactical channels for either when an individual needs to take a break. This will require adequate staffing in the center but is critical to ensure timely and efficient management of dispatch traffic.

5. Training in the areas of fire and police dispatch should be equal. All personnel who are qualified as dispatchers need to be trained, and capable, of handling either discipline equally well. All dispatchers should be trained in fire and police terminology as well as Incident Command System (ICS) operations and terminology.

6. Increase training for dispatchers in the areas of police and fire operations to ensure a better understanding of the needs of field personnel. This training can be a cooperative effort between LRCC and the police and fire departments. Daily decision making should remain the function of the on-duty LRCC Communications Supervisor when needed.

7. Establish a second dispatch console position to provide some relief for the existing primary police dispatch console position. Assign one dispatch position to the busiest division and the other position dedicated to the other two divisions. In the long term, once staffing is increased, dedicate a dispatch console position for each division. A single service channel console should suffice once technology recommendations are implemented. Provide a telephone set to all radio console dispatch position to facilitate outgoing emergency calls when necessary.

8. Officers need to advise dispatch when a scene is secure so that emergency medical services can come on scene to attend to the critically injured. Operational Support Technology. 

9. The executive public safety and IT stakeholders are encouraged to continue with the planned monthly meetings. The stakeholders should attempt to avoid cancelations of these meetings whenever possible.

10. IT should develop a formalized method to initiate a project upon customer request if one doesn’t exist and have the customer score the requested project 38 according to accepted initiation gate methodology. If the project moves forward, large projects should include the typical project management deliverables, signoffs by the customer, and a budget (if applicable). IT and the LRCC command staff should meet regularly with documented project status reports in hand to discuss the current project status of outstanding work so that there is no misunderstanding.

11. IT should develop a formalized Change Control notification process to notify stakeholders when planned events or unplanned outages will affect any of the public safety applications.

12. The City of Little Rock should update the existing CAD to a modern system compatible with next generation 9-1-1 technologies and capable of providing the missing functionality identified by LRCC staff and customer agencies. When considering how to select a new CAD system a number of resources exist for LRCC to base an RFP and decision making on. These resources include the list of all CAD functions in the APCO American National Standard (ANS) MultiFunctional Multi-Discipline Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) Minimum Functional Requirements5 - APCO ANS 1.110.1-2015. In addition, LRCC may want to consider hiring a consultant with the specific task of performing a needs assessment, identifying requirements, and assisting with the creation of an RFP for the new system.

13. The IT Department should initiate an inquiry to Northrup Grumman to determine the cost of implementing the same ASAP interface for the LRCC that is in use at the Houston Emergency Center in concert with Houston’s Altaris CAD system. It is highly recommended that the LRCC take advantage of this interface, which is capable of automating the receipt of the majority of the alarm calls reported by alarm monitoring companies. Include the requirement for an updated or replacement CAD system that adheres to the APCO/CSAA ANS 2.101.2-2014 Alarm Monitoring Company to Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) Automated Secure Alarm Protocol (ASAP)6.

14. Produce a hard copy or soft copy of a fire run card listing and place it at the fire dispatch position. The document should be updated regularly when there is new data that could become crucial during a CAD outage.

15. Produce a hard copy of soft copy of a gate code listing and place it as the radio dispatch positions. The document should be updated regularly when there is new data that could become crucial during a CAD outage.

16. Determine if an interface is available for the existing CAD system to communicate with the fire station alerting control console. Implementation of an 6 See https://www.apcointl.org/doc/911-resources/apco-standards/527-alarm-monitoringcompany-to-psap-cad-automated-secure-alarm-protocol-asap/file.html 39 automated interface could reduce the time required to dispatch fire assignments and minimize mistakes in the alerting process. The City of Little Rock will need to evaluate the cost effectiveness of this interface against the expected remaining life expectancy of the current CAD.

17. Provide Streetwise access to the communications staff to enable the visual retrieval of the current location of public safety resources, as requested by LRCC Management in early 2015. Provide training to all LRCC staff concerning how to determine the location of a field resource.

18. Update or replace the current CAD system and include integration of AVL data to enable the automated recommendation of the closest units. The current CAD is not capable of providing this type of recommendation. The recommend service should also track the status of units who clear from another call and provide a revised real-time recommendation to the dispatcher if the unit that just cleared is closer than other units. The service should also be capable of recommending that a resource be pre-empted to respond to a higher priority call.

19. Require that any updated or replacement CAD system includes an integrated application capable of initiating status changes and acknowledge those changes via either a mobile CAD client or some other machine based client.

20. Priority must be placed in ensuring that all missing addresses and address ranges are added to the system as-soon-as-possible. This will lessen the likelihood that an address will need to be “forced” in.

21. The IT department should analyze the Court Connect system to determine if wanted person queries can be achieved using a street address as the criteria. If so, an interface between the updated or replacement CAD system should be included to automatically initiate a query to the Court Connect warrant system when each new call-for-service is entered into the CAD. Positive responses should be brought to the radio dispatcher’s attention as well as the responding officers’ attention.

22. Enable Court Connect and ACIC access from all CAD console positions using the CAD interface to these systems as the gateway. Require that the updated or replacement CAD system initiate wanted person queries to both the Court Connect and ACIC systems based on a single dispatcher and officer query if enough query criteria exists to meet the minimum required fields.

23. Require that the updated or replacement CAD include a feature to auto-generate additional driver’s license queries upon examination of a vehicle registration response from DMV. The CAD should then be able to auto-generate wanted person queries to the Court Connect and ACIC systems based on the criteria provided with the driver’s license responses about the registered owners.

24. Open a discussion with the Director of MEMS Communications to consider the feasibility of establishing an interface between the any new LRCC CAD and the Zoll CAD used by MEMS. Any such interface should provide bi-directional updates to each CAD when there is a multi-disciplined response; i.e. police and/or fire, and EMS. 40 Mapping System. 

25. Public Works staff responsible for maintaining the GIS data for the City of Little Rock must place top priority on updating the GIS for missing streets, street changes, and street number range changes. Responses to public safety incidents will continue to be vulnerable to mistaken or delayed dispatches without accurate data.

26. The City should consider hiring a dedicated GIS coordinator. This individual would work with both the Communications Systems Specialist and public works to resolve all addressing issues. The GIS coordinator should be cross-trained as a backup for the Communications Systems Specialist Recording Devices & Programs.

27. Consider providing access to the Nice recorder system to police investigators to enable them to conduct their own investigations and research. Such access must be user name and password specific and only information related to a specific investigation should be accessible. This is configurable by the system administrator. Telephone System Functionality. 

28.Re-install a telephone set at the main police dispatch console to enable the police dispatcher to place outgoing telephone calls when emergency situations warrant and no other 9-1-1 staff person is available to place the call. 9-1-1 Systems Wire Line and Wireless Technologies. 

29.Have AT&T perform an analysis annually during peak tourist season to assess the percentage of busy signals generated when citizens dial 9-1-1. Add 9-1-1 trunks as necessary. Planned Notification Processes for Equipment Outages that are operated 24/7. 

30.Create decision tree flowcharts for communications supervisory staff to follow when problems are encountered with the radio system, the 9-1-1 telephone system, and the CAD system. The flowchart should be easy to follow and provide guidance to the supervisor when an on-call person should be notified or when it is ok to defer notification when only a single position is out-of-service and staff can use another console position instead. Existing Telephone System and Mechanisms to Evaluate Service Delivery.