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From power outages to long wait times, Atlanta mayor works to address issues at 911 call center

Every day 3,000 calls go through the 911 call center, with more than 1.2 million calls each year, according to the agency's director.

ATLANTA — Voters will soon decide on whether to invest more money into Atlanta's 911 Call Center when they head to the polls next Tuesday. This comes after months of complaints by callers about long wait times.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickensis asking voters for a $15 million investment to help address the issues.

From staffing concerns to power outages and the number of people placed on hold during possible emergencies, the mayor didn't shy away from discussing the center's problems.

"The last thing I want is for somebody in an emergency to go to a system that's not responsive," Dickens said.

Every day 3,000 calls go through the 911 call center, with more than 1.2 million calls each year, according to the agency's director. 

During a tour of the facility on Tuesday, 11Alive saw multiple calls being placed on hold for up to a minute, according to a monitor in the call center. The 911 director admitted that currently only 82% of calls are answered within the first 10 seconds.

Dickens said he believes multiple power and air conditioning outages, as well as water leaks, have contributed to workers not being able to answer calls efficiently and do their jobs effectively. 

"Our 911 employees are some of the best in the nation, and as mayor, I want to make sure that they are properly taken care of," he said.

Dickens said he believes a bond referendum totaling more than $15 million will help address some of these issues. 

If voters support referendum No. 3, the General Obligation Improvement Bond would finance infrastructure movements at the facility. 

The mayor said he is also hoping this investment will not only help retain current employees but attract more hires to the understaffed facility. 

"Part of what we're doing to help with the staffing issue is one, of course, making sure we do a good job of recruiting, but also building up the system so that the workers here see that we find value in them," Dickens said. 

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