FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) — A nationwide shortage of emergency 911 operators includes at least one South Florida county.
Broward County is looking to fill close to 90 empty dispatcher positions.
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Tuesday, Broward County commissioners held a meeting with Sheriff Gregory Tony about the situation which, according to a report by the Sun Sentinel, has led to thousands of unanswered 911 calls.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, there isn’t enough money to attract new workers or to keep those already employed from quitting.
Commissioner Mark Bogen urged Sheriff Tony to take immediate action.
“I urge you to today, tomorrow, put those people on par, you got the money, you hear everyone is willing to give you what you need to help fill the remaining. You have the support. You could stop that problem right this second when you leave here so nobody will leave for other jobs,” said Bogen.
Sheriff Tony replied, “Excellent. I will put a strategy in place and come here with our needs assessment first, and then roll in whatever other creative elements that will make that work.”
The Sheriff’s Office is scheduled to make a presentation to County Commission on May 10 to discuss the financial relief the agency needs.
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According to the Sun Sentinel report, abandoned 911 calls, which are those that are disconnected before being answered, increased 26 percent from 2019 to 2021. And in February 2022, there were more than 14,000 abandoned calls.
A super delayed 911 response is something Broward County warned about in its own promotional video.
“We might have a delayed response answering your call, but we are going to answer the call.”
Sheriff Tony now answering the call of concerned Broward County Commissioners with a harsh reality.
“This will always be a problem here whether we admit it or not,” said Tony.
The sheriff admitted his office has a serious recruitment and retention crisis, which is eliciting an immediate solution from some commissioners.
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“You won’t lose anybody if you give everybody a raise, give everybody a raise the same as Palm Beach and you won’t lose anybody if that’s the issue.”