You must log in or register to comment.

Bravelittleroaster t1_j9fifze wrote

Unanswered emergency call sparks demand for ‘reform’ at Jersey City 911 center, but who’s to blame?

By Ron Zeitlinger | The Jersey Journal

A video posted online of a call to the Jersey City 911 call center going unanswered after a hit-and-run crash last weekend has the city administration fuming and may speed up the city’s consideration of privatizing the call center.

“We need to get to the bottom of this, you can see in the email the mayor is really upset with the 911 not being answered!! I want a full investigation and a detailed report ASAP!!!!!” Robert Baker, the Jersey City Department of Public Safety’s director of the public safety communications center and information technology, said in an email Sunday morning, less than 12 hours after the incident at the popular Taqueria restaurant on Grove Street Downtown.

A portion of the hit-and-run incident, in which a vehicle struck two people and slammed into the restaurant, was caught on video by a neighbor. As one person records the incident, another is heard calling police, but grows frustrated when no one picks up.

Baker’s directive was in response to an email sent by Mayor Steve Fulop earlier that morning to Public Safety Director James Shea, some city councilmembers and Business Administrator John Metro — “We really should move forward with this on the next agenda and start to take the steps we discussed to change the culture and improve performance here.”

Baker followed it with another email six minutes later: “I want to know how the 911 call-takers were, who were on and who was off Intrado at the time of the call, what call volume was at the time! We were receiving calls on this from other callers.”

The emails were obtained by The Jersey Journal.

The “here” Fulop referred to is the public safety department’s 911 call center, the subject of numerous complaints that calls go unanswered. In November, the city council rejected a resolution to hire a company for $213,000 to study and solve the city’s troubling 911 system.

The company, IXP, performed reviews in 2015 and 2018. At the November meeting, Councilman Yousef Saleh noted “we haven’t even adopted the recommendations from the 2018 report.”

Downtown Councilman James Solomon said Friday “It is 100% clear that the 911 system and center is in desperate need of reform. That is 100% clear and it has been clear now for a long time.”

At the November meeting, department employees told the council the 911 center is understaffed. Some workers, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Jersey Journal this week that the city has set up the 911 call-takers to fail because they have wanted to privatize the call center operations for years.

In the case of the Feb. 11 crash at Taqueria, call center records show the incident was reported at 10:59 p.m. and passed along to the East District two minutes later. A dispatcher, who also works in the call center on Bishop Street, dispatched the call to a police officer at 11:08, seven minutes later. Records show that two officers responded to the restaurant at 11:14 p.m., 15 minutes after it was first reported.

In another email obtained by The Jersey Journal, Roseann Manto, supervisor at the 911 call center, explained that there should have been five call-takers on the midnight tour that started at 10:50 p.m., and that “between incoming, outgoing and abandoned calls, we had 284 calls” between 10:50 and 11:40 p.m.

Manto said in the email that during the same time period, “besides the usual non-emergency calls, we were receiving calls for a car fire, three (other) motor vehicle accidents, domestic disputes, a street fight and an assault.”

She noted in the email that two call-takers were logged in at 10:50 p.m. since they had worked the previous shift, one did not log in until 10:56 p.m., and another was not ready to take calls until 11:11. A fifth call-taker, who was described as “chronically late,” did not log into until after midnight.

“Is the root cause ... a culture among employees, is it poor management, is it both? That is what needs to be investigated,” said Solomon, who added that he heard from multiple people who said no one answered their calls after the Downtown crash. “So I respect the mayor’s kind of hypothesis or theory here, but I’m not going to immediately buy in until me and the council get the evidence to back it up.”

Jersey City spokeswoman Kimberly Wallace-Scalcione said the city is investigating claims stemming from the Taqueria incident “to ensure any potential weak points are immediately addressed. We had a closed session with the City Council two weeks ago on this issue and we will continue to look for ways to improve.”

Whether the city moves to privatize the call center or reform it, Solomon said city officials should keep one thing in mind — “The only thing is that the people deserve a quick solution to the problem.”


cmc t1_j9fo7tr wrote

> At the November meeting, department employees told the council the 911 center is understaffed. Some workers, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Jersey Journal this week that the city has set up the 911 call-takers to fail because they have wanted to privatize the call center operations for years.

I believe this. Create a problem that can be solved by paying a private company more of our tax money instead of reforming the 911 system and hiring more people.


Ilanaspax t1_j9fsidi wrote


And you can tell they are full of shit because they are acting like this an outrageous surprise when they’ve known for years that there has been issues.


Informal_Bat_722 t1_j9fvjur wrote

if the city has been this bad at managing this, effectively training operators, etc. and there's an option of a private company coming in to provide all of this I don't see an issue with it.

Pragmatically, it's going to take way longer to clean this situation up internally than it is to hire a private company.

Handling 911 calls is not something that has the luxury of time.


cmc t1_j9fy8rq wrote

I can agree with a lot of what you're saying- obviously the city is failing and it needs to be fixed immediately, not have another round of reviews to have recommendations to be ignored. My point is- the actual system itself shouldn't be broken. Pretty much every other city of various sizes is able to run a publicly funded 911 dispatch system. NYC is doing it, Newark is doing it, Hoboken is doing it, etc etc. can be done. It seems to me that this smells of corruption- refuse to fix the system (which is entirely fixable) so you can pay a private company to run it instead. And if I had to guess, all of our taxes will increase to cover this. And if I had to go out on a further limb, I suspect there will be shady connections between the private company that is awarded this contract and some higher-up government officials.

Privatizing public safety just seems gross to me. This is literally the bare minimum of what our tax dollars are supposed to be doing.


Informal_Bat_722 t1_j9g2jaf wrote

Yes, I agree that it shouldn't be broken but, unfortunately, this is not the issue that we're actively dealing with.

Something being fixable =/= the best approach forward. They would effectively have to recreate the wheel here, hire new people, allocate new resources, administer a robust training mechanism, provide routine audits to ensure everything is working correctly, engage on a software solution that speaks to the systems of the city, etc.

If you're talking about raising taxes, I would wager building an in-house solution is probably going to cost more and would raise our taxes, particularly because in-house solutions often have major pitfalls and may end up failing in the end.

For what it's worth- the company they were exploring, IXP, also handles it for other places in NJ and across the country.

Much of what you're saying is conjecture & assumptions, you may be right, but you may also be very wrong considering this isn't a company they're exploring that is brand new, built by Mayor Fulop's cousin. They have efficacy case studies that prove their effectiveness.

See here

>Privatizing public safety just seems gross to me.

Also, to this point, have you ever been on a college campus, a mall, or even a campus like corporate office? Privatized public safety isn't a new phenomenon. It's been around for decades.

If it works better (& it likely does) than what JC can provide, why shouldn't we explore this option?


IC3POs t1_j9g5323 wrote

I mentioned it on my own comment earlier- but when Danbury CT went private - police officers had over 400 complaints against IXP within 18 months.. Look at other services the city has privatized that run less efficiently - JCMUA, Animal Control (Liberty Humane who are a pain to deal with) - and some garbage collection. Seems to me that the city would perfer to bust it’s near largest union. Public safety should remain that, public.


Informal_Bat_722 t1_j9g7t4y wrote

400 complaints over 18 months, 5 years ago vs 284 calls to 911 in 50 minutes, many of which went unresolved

idk, seems like some pretty easy math to me lol

Here's more on that company:


IC3POs t1_j9g9kid wrote

I would think another issue to consider for JC 911, is the fact that our public safety employees aren’t being paid correctly even after the city spent over $1.3 million on a payroll system that isn’t working.


Informal_Bat_722 t1_j9gb60z wrote

Which corroborates my note that we should explore privatization because of how poorly JC handles both employee assets but also their own systems.


IC3POs t1_j9gbtm1 wrote

The new payroll system is a privatized company, that failed 4 pay periods since Jan. 6th to pay employees correctly. Cops, firefighters, dispatchers, etc.


Informal_Bat_722 t1_j9jvoko wrote

Do you work in the real world?

When there is an issue with ADP, Workday, Paychex, etc. that are all privatized SAAS payroll systems the control failure is on the company itself and how they instituted the software.

>He said the police had a number of special units that made use of a finger punch system, confusing the software since many officers were punching in from places other than those anticipated.


This isn't an issue with the software, but how it was set up by Jersey City officials.


I further think you lack the wherewithal of reality to boast that something isn't working because of a handful of cases amongst tens of thousands of instances of it working properly, while all of these exceptions of it not working occurred at the onset of this software being implemented.


cmc t1_j9gge2y wrote

I disagree with almost everything you've said here, most especially using private security for small/private institutions as a comparison point for a 911 dispatch system which manages all public services for an entire city. This is, to me, apples and oranges.


Informal_Bat_722 t1_j9jv61h wrote

>small/private institutions as a comparison point for a 911 dispatch system

Virtually every university in America uses privatized security, including ones that have a larger footprint than most cities in America. Not sure if srs.


cmc t1_j9jvpwd wrote

There are 283k people in Jersey City. Please tell me of a university with that kind of enrollment.


Informal_Bat_722 t1_j9jw1ju wrote

Boston has 346k students, Philly has 342k students. Almost every college institution in America has privatized security. Ergo, all of these students are covered by privatized security.

edit-- mind you, this privatized security isn't EXCLUSIVELY for students but staff and others are covered as well


cmc t1_j9jx649 wrote

Ummm which Boston university has 346k students? Philly? Or are you counting every single student in the city, each in different institutions with different privatized security companies?

Anyway that's not my overall point- I don't personally (again- my opinion) believe that CITY SERVICES should be privatized. My opinion. Universities being used as a comparison point was as I said before- apples and oranges. We can keep going down this rabbit hole but as I said before, we're comparing a private institution with a city. And my actual overall point is there's a lot of corruption in JC government and money isn't being properly allocated, and it's (AGAIN MY OPINION) that this should be fixed rather than hired out. You're welcome to disagree. Cheers.


Informal_Bat_722 t1_j9k00w7 wrote

> Or are you counting every single student in the city, each in different institutions with different privatized security companies?

You objectively think that every single institution within one city limit all have different privatized security companies? Dude, come on..... at least try to be objective in this conversation.

>Universities being used as a comparison point was as I said before- apples and oranges

Okay, thanks for your opinion. IXP, the private company in discovery for this solution, also does work with college campuses

So weird how the same private security company provides the same, or similar solution, to different entities but because it doesn't fit your narrative you like to just gloss over it entirely.

>believe that CITY SERVICES should be privatized. My opinion.

Okay, and I agree in the case when city services are being handled effectively. But we can both agree that it is objectively not being handled effectively right now, and I would encourage you to do any semblance of research of what the lift would be (money, time, & personnel) to build and/or revitalize an in-house solution as compared to contracting it out.

The solution needs to happen NOW. Not in 3-4 years by the time they can get an in-house solution running effectively.

If JC had the wherewithal they could contract this out to IXP, spend those years gathering insights and then concurrently build their in-house solution.

>there's a lot of corruption in JC government and money isn't being properly allocated

This can be true AND it be true that JC doesn't have the wherewithal to handle this internally. This has been an ongoing problem for decades. This isn't going to be handled in-house overnight effectively, for the same reason you list.

But an accredited private organization that has independent case studies of its efficacy can and has worked in the past. Hard stop.


cmc t1_j9k0a5z wrote

A lot of the firm statements you're presenting as facts are your opinion. So I will just state that on my side, I am agreeing to disagree. You can continue to rant but we're going to keep our own perspectives at the end of the day so save yourself the time. Cheers.


Informal_Bat_722 t1_j9k0e7x wrote

Nice, another comment where you don't provide a substantive argument while also mischaracterizing my comments as "opinion" even though everything I've asserted is easily provable.

Enjoy your bubble.


orb_king t1_j9fxwnn wrote

Then I’d suggest we sign a 1 year contract with the private company and give leadership the ultimatum to train up staff and fix processes, then gradually begin routing calls back into the city owned facilities. This is not something I want a city to “forget” how to do, due to attrition or privatization.


Own_Pop_9711 t1_j9g0vjo wrote

This implies the city currently knows how to do this.


orb_king t1_j9g9vff wrote

The city government needs to create or retain this expertise. Not contract it out and get ripped off by self-dealing politicians.


vocabularylessons t1_j9i2lym wrote

From another article:

>IXP Corporation, based in Princeton, handled the city’s previous reviews of dispatch services in 2018. The company’s senior vice president is Adam Safir, son of Howard Safir, a former New York Police Department commissioner who led the search to hire Jersey City Public Safety Director James Shea in 2013.
>...IXP corporation, which also runs a private 911 dispatch service, will push for the service to be privatized... "The problem is if we are hiring these guys to do the study, they are not an independent consultants that can give us options. They have a financial incentive to recommend to us to privatize the service,” [Solomon said].

The city's 911 system is totally broken, but putting all our eggs in the IXP isn't prudent.


IC3POs t1_j9frfoq wrote

As mentioned in my previous comment on the overall “issues” of JC 911 - it appears the city is trying to have shit roll down hill, blaming employees before upper management. I reached back out to my dispatcher friend on this issue and again, he reiterated that staffing is very low, most 911 employees still aren’t being paid properly. My friend stated that going on 2+ years, the city has refused to promote within 911, leaving entire shifts with no supervision. On top of all that; the city is in the works to privatize the entire 911 center, killing union jobs & most likely costing us tax payers even more money to outsource something of this magnitude to the corporation, IXP, mentioned in OP’s linked article. Seen here, the company was sued in 2018 for an incident that took place in Danbury, CT, one of their privatized 911 centers. Police officers in Danbury filed over 400 complaints against IXP after a police officer was dispatched to his own assault. Back to Taqueria, 284 calls in 50 minutes between 4-5 operators seems like an insane call volume to me. Reform might be needed, but as my friend said it shouldn’t all fall on the employees working multiple 16 hour shifts per week not knowing if they’ll be paid correctly.


PoetryTemporary2283 t1_j9igmu8 wrote

IXP who was in Danbury had a call for a officer being assaulted. The operators from IXP dispatch sent the own cop to his own assault.


Informal_Bat_722 t1_j9g32v7 wrote

>Seen here, the company was sued in 2018 for an incident that took place in Danbury, CT, one of their privatized 911 centers.

This is an important note from the article; "A police officer later sued the company after he was beaten for more than a minute while IXP dispatchers struggled to get the information to nearby officers — but the lawsuit was withdrawn this past year."


jakkyskum t1_j9fqauz wrote

When a friend of mine collapsed, we had to call 911 and they didn’t answer then, either. And this was 10 years ago


restricteddata t1_j9g2w9e wrote

I sent an e-mail to Fulop last weekend and did get a personal response, which I appreciated:

> We actually had a closed session two weeks ago with the city council as it is an extremely high priority - without getting too into it we had a proposal on this issue 9 months ago that the city council didn’t approve bc the existing dispatchers protested…. The meeting two weeks ago was pleading with the council that they need to consider the larger problem and I do believe they were receptive

> Here is an article and we explained to them then and again it has nothing at all to do with under staffing - I think they acknowledge that now:

Which I haven't had the time to unpack or respond to, but I appreciated that the overall approach was in admitting the problem existed. I emphasized in my e-mail that this is the kind of basic service that, aside from its inherent value, would definitely play a factor in whether people with money would want to move here or buy a house here, so if they don't care about the actual lives at stake, they can think of the property values... I know, I know, a little craven, but I never assume a politician cares about lives.

Anyway, if you're mad about this (you should be), you should write to the mayor, to your councilperson, etc. Obviously your individual e-mails aren't going to make the difference, but there is a lot of evidence that a tide of individual, hand-written, real messages does make these people think that this is something people care about. That's the first step towards change.


Rube777 t1_j9k4zv9 wrote

How is Fulop claiming the problem isn’t understaffing? I’d like to hear his argument… the core of the problem is understaffing (and probably under paying… people not paid well don’t work so well)


orb_king t1_j9fhl8f wrote

I’d love to read this but it’s paywalled.


Ezl t1_j9flvr3 wrote

Someone posted the whole article in a comment.


EyesOnImprovement t1_j9ft9ys wrote

Weird that we haven't heard anything since, you'd think it's be easy in this day and age to find footage and a plate number. Also weird that Fulop obviously knew right away but hasn't addressed it, but at least that's consistent with his "let the legal process play out" policy.


jerseycityfrankie t1_j9g2a6i wrote

Yah I’m curious about the call center lack,of competence but also what about these drunken scumbags knocking down our shit?


LateralEntry t1_j9griui wrote

Is there a list anywhere or map of 911 emergency dispatch centers in New Jersey?