Stanislaus County and Modesto are moving forward on deciding how to implement a consultant’s report that found several areas that need to be fixed at the Stanislaus Regional 911 Center.
The consultant – Greg Mathews with the Matrix Consulting Group – reviewed the highlights of his 175-page report at Wednesday’s meeting of the Stanislaus Regional 911 commission. The city and county formed the dispatch center in 1999. Its workers are county employees, but the commissioners include city and county officials.
Modesto and Stanislaus County are splitting the cost of the $50,000 report.
The concerns raised in the Matrix report include the center’s staffing levels, the cost to operate the center and the gulf between how center employees view their performance vs. how the center’s public safety customers view it. For instance, 92 percent of center employees believe they are providing a high level of service, while 45 percent of public safety employees believe the center is providing high-quality service to their agency.
One of the biggest issues is a staffing imbalance between dispatchers and call takers, who answer the phones. The report finds the center has too many dispatch positions and not enough call taker positions. This has led to frustration among public safety employees who have to wait because dispatchers are answering the phones.
But Mathews gave the dispatch center an overall grade of B-plus and said he was impressed that officials have started working to decide which of the report’s 36 recommendations they want to implement.
City and county officials expect to report back to the commission by no later than July 1 on which recommendations they believe commissioners should implement. Officials also will provide commissioners with periodic updates as they work through the Matrix report.
Commissioners partially implemented one of the recommendations Wednesday when they appointed Modesto police Capt. Joel Broumas as the center’s interim director for the next year. He will replace Sheriff’s Lt. Mike Parker and retired Modesto Regional Fire Authority acting division chief Cecil Ridge, who have served as co-directors.
Sheriff Adam Christianson has reassigned Parker. Ridge – who is working part time – is expected to finish his duties in about a month. The study recommends having one director to avoid confusion among employees.
In recent years, the center’s directors have come from the ranks of city and county public safety officials. The Matrix study recommends the center have a civilian director, who has come up through the ranks of the dispatch industry and has a thorough knowledge of the industry.
Parker and Ridge drew praise from commissioners, the consultant and Stanislaus Regional Emergency Dispatchers Association President Ronda Bell for improving morale at the center.
But Bell told commissioners Stanislaus Regional was not doing a good job notifying center employees about commission meetings and the issues that would be discussed.
After the meeting, she said Stanislaus Regional was not complying with California’s open-meeting law, known as the Brown Act, because it is posting meeting agendas outside the commission chambers just before the meetings start, instead of the required 72 hours before the start of a meeting.
Stanislaus Regional executive assistant Kaye-Marie Newell said her agency is complying with the Brown Act and is posting agendas 72 hours before meetings.
But Stanislaus Regional officials did concur with Bell’s concern that agendas and agenda reports need to be posted on the agency’s website. Officials said they are working to make that happen.