Atlanta councilwoman forms task force to improve 911 calls

Atlanta City Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong has formed a task force including DeKalb County and other stakeholders to improve emergency response calls in the area of unincorporated DeKalb County located in Atlanta. Photo by Carla Parker

For residents living in the part of Atlanta in DeKalb County, it might be a little confusing who to call if there’s an emergency: Atlanta Police or the DeKalb County Police Department.

Atlanta City Councilwomen Natalyn Archibong aims to change that confusion by forming a multijurisdictional task force to address concerns raised by residents.

Archibong hopes the creation of the District 5 Atlanta-in-DeKalb Police Jurisdiction Task Force will find solutions to ensure that 911 calls are routed properly and emergency responders are dispatched more quickly.

“A recent 911 call in the Atlanta-in-DeKalb area which resulted in both Atlanta and DeKalb County police officers responding, as well as confusion over which police department should actually handle the call, prompted me to establish this taskforce,” Archibong said. “Through the work of this taskforce, we hope to conclusively resolve all barriers to our Atlanta-in-DeKalb citizens’ calls being accurately and properly handled by the 911 call center.”

The task force will consist of 14 members, including representatives for Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Atlanta City Council President Caesar Mitchell, DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May, Chairman of the Atlanta City Council Public Safety Committee Michael Julian Bond, DeKalb County District 3 Commissioner Larry Johnson and the Atlanta and DeKalb County police departments.

Archibong, who represents areas in East Atlanta and Kirkwood, said confusion among 911 operators and first responders is something that has been occurring for years. Recently, Archibong said a resident called 911 from DeKalb Memorial Park, located on the border of Atlanta and DeKalb County, and first-responders from both the Atlanta Police Department and the DeKalb County Police Department arrived at the scene.

“Then there was a discussion between the responders of who should be the ones [responsible] for that area,” Archibong said. “It was an affirmation that the problem was unresolved.”

Archibong said the creation of the task force isn’t meant to imply that there haven’t already been multijurisdictional discussions among the city, county and law enforcement agencies in the area.

“There have been a lot of high-level conversations recognizing that we have to have a cooperative approach,” Archibong said.

Additionally, representatives from Grady Hospital’s emergency response unit and American Medical Response emergency vehicles will be included on the task force.

DeKalb County Police Chief Cedric Alexander said the issue is more complex than it seems, especially in areas that are bordering the county and city line.

“It’s interesting because we can respond to an address, and that address could be in the county, but if you come out to the sidewalk, where the incident occurred, it’s in the city. We still have got some work to do around that because that has certainly been a complex issue,” Alexander said.



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