301.519.9237 exdirector@nesaus.org

8.21.23 – KMBC – JACKSON COUNTY, Mo.

On Monday afternoon, the Jackson County Legislature voted 9-0 to approve more than $1.5 million for new computer servers for that 911 system.

The troubled 911 system for the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department is getting help from Jackson County taxpayers.

“I wish there would have been a 50/50 way to get this done,” said Legislator Jalen Anderson who was a reluctant yes vote.

Anderson and Jackson County Administrator Troy Schulte point out Kansas City leaders tried to get the money through their own budget process the last couple of years without success.

“We’ve got to figure out a way to deal with those core issues. When I was at the city, we always try to make sure those things got funded first,” said Schulte, who had the same role with Kansas City government.

“We have for years supported a tax that helps us fund things like emergency services and response. Since half of Jackson County lives in Kansas City, Missouri, we think this is an appropriate way to fund it,” said Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas.Play Video

The legislature’s vote to fund the new computer servers comes after KCPD representatives told lawmakers at a committee meeting Monday morning their current servers are so old and outdated, they’ve previously crashed.

As a result, call takers and dispatchers have had to write on note pads to pass information on to police officers.

“I think that it’s terribly important that we get whatever they need done and buy the new equipment. But I do find it interesting that the Kansas City Police Department had to come to Jackson County to fund a critical issue that will affect all the citizens, not only in Jackson County, but also Platte, Clay, and Cass,” Anderson said.

The new servers, however, won’t fix the consistent problem of slow response times for 911 calls to KCPD.

The department has 26 openings for 911 call takers and dispatchers or about one in four of the jobs unfilled.

July numbers reflect that problem.

Just over half of 911 calls were answered within 15 seconds last month, far below industry standards of 90 to 95 percent.

Additionally, there were six days in July when at least one person waited more than an hour to have a 911 call answered.

The longest recorded wait time was 1 hour 50 minutes and 43 seconds on July 14, the day a storm knocked down trees and power lines and caused flash flooding.

“This is unbelievable. It is a crisis. It really is something that shouldn’t be acceptable,” Mayor Lucas said.

One potential way to alleviate the problem is an auto attendant function to filter calls to various agencies and KCPD’s non-emergency line.

On July 31, Motorola gave a quote of $157,276.49 to implement software for that plan.

Because of the complexity of that potential solution, it would not be complete until sometime in the first quarter of next year.

On August 3, the city council adopted a resolution to ask for proposals for Kansas City to operate its own in-house call center.

The city currently is part of a cooperative metro effort with the Mid America Regional Council or MARC.

“I hope we get on the other side of it very soon because this is just not working for Kansas City,” Mayor Lucas said.

“We’re doing a study to see if there’s opportunities for sharing or consolidation that might give us some efficiencies, allow us to staff in one area, to cover staffing in another area to get those results in six months or nine months,” Schulte said.