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Task Force Aims to Reduce Emergency Response Time in Atlanta-Dekalb

By Henry Bryant
The City of Atlanta and DeKalb County have independent 911 call centers and separate police departments. Residents who live near the border of Atlanta and unincorporated DeKalb County have reported slow emergency response times, with calls being routed across jurisdictional boundaries, and confusion from first responders. In response, City Councilmember Natalyn Archibong introduced legislation in September to create the District 5 Atlanta-in-DeKalb Police Jurisdiction Task Force. The task force will work to find solutions that will ensure that 911 calls are routed properly and emergency responders dispatched more quickly.
Atlanta-in-DeKalb residents, particularly those with cell phones living in East Atlanta, Kirkwood and East Lake, have voiced serious concerns regarding routing of 911 calls. This concern was raised at the July 10 public safety meeting held at the Atlanta Zoo and again at the District 5 Public Safety Town Hall Meeting co-hosted with Mayor Kasim Reed on August 5. A cell phone routing a call through the nearest tower may route an emergency call to the wrong jurisdiction.
“A recent 911 call 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,” said Archibong. “For more than a few years, I have urged my constituents to store the direct landline number for 911 in their cell phones to avoid cell tower response confusion. With more constituents eliminating landlines, it is imperative to have seamless 911 access for all calls made in Atlanta-in-DeKalb. This taskforce is a continuation of prior efforts to conclusively address this problem and will hopefully resolve all barriers to our Atlanta-in-DeKalb citizens’ calls being accurately and properly handled by the 911 call centers.”
The District 5 Atlanta-in-DeKalb Police Jurisdiction Task Force will consist of 17 members, including representatives from the Mayor, Council President, Public Safety Committee Chair, Interim CEO of DeKalb, DeKalb Commissioner Larry Johnson, Atlanta and DeKalb Police Departments, Atlanta and DeKalb 911 departments, and emergency ambulance providers for both Atlanta and DeKalb.
The direct number to call the Atlanta Police Department from Atlanta in Dekalb or near the Dekalb County line is 404-658-6666. Anyone with information regarding recent Atlanta-in-DeKalb 911 troublesome experiences should contact council member Archibong’s office at or 404-330-6048.

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