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Macon-Bibb County switches oversight of E-911 to sheriff's office

The sheriff and mayor say this decision could improve response time and streamline communication.

MACON, Ga. — Response times have long been a concern in Macon-Bibb, but the mayor and sheriff say they think they have a way to help cut those times.

It involves putting the 911 center under the management of the sheriff's office rather than the county.

Mayor Lester Miller says the county tried to fix something that wasn't broken back during consolidation. 

Then, the 911 center was under Macon Police Department. However, during the city-county merger in 2014, it moved under the county's responsibility. Since, the mayor says there's been several issues and complaints. 

Now, the sheriff and mayor say this decision could improve response time and streamline communication. 

Ben Walker is just one of the dozens we've heard from about Bibb County's long response time. Walker says he waited and waited for a deputy to respond to a fender binder accident on Pio Nono Avenue in October 2021.

"Sat there 30 minutes, an hour, hour-and-a-half. I was like, 'Oh, my gosh,'" Walker said. 

In that time, he says he called to check in with 911 dispatch at least twice.

"So I ended up just calling Georgia State Patrol, and they were there in 20 minutes," Walker said.

But three hours later, Walker says he finally heard back from 911 dispatch.

"It was 8:30, 9:00 that night, I got a call from EMS, Bibb County Sheriff asking 'Hey, are y'all still out there? Do you still need service?" Walker said.

Mayor Lester Miller says he's heard of cases like Walker's. In fact, the mayor says he too has seen the E-911 Center's long response times first hand when a relative had a medical emergency.

"Called 911 and put me on hold. Called 911 again, got a dropped call. I ended up having to run to the sheriff's office myself from the location I was at to get someone to come over," Miller said. 

The mayor along with Sheriff David Davis says the decision to move the E-911 center will help get deputies and other first responders to scenes faster. It will also help the Sheriff's Office better manage deputies' response time-- something that's been hard to gauge in the past. 

"We've had it under one to two umbrellas so it's hard to track from the time the call comes in to the time the officer arrives to the scene and what happens at the scene," Miller said. 

13WMAZ filed a records request in March on the sheriff's office's response times over a two week period. A lawyer handling records requests for the county said it would take thousands of dollars and several months to produce the records. The county also said there was no way to track an average response time unless you went report-by-report each day, each hour. 

The decision to transfer oversight of the 911 center was made right as the county fired its E-911 director Shandel Graham early last month.

"There was a morale issue there at 911. We had constant turnover there. It always falls at the head of the director or the person in charge and the person at the top," Miller said. 

The mayor says that decision to fire Graham came after the county received more complaints about slow 911 response times. 

County spokesperson Chris Floore says Graham verbally resigned soon after the county notified her they planned to fire her.

Graham was named interim director of the E-911 center in November 2018 and appointed director in August 2019. An interim director is working until the sheriff's office can hire a new one.


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