Coral Springs Open To Joining Broward County's 911 System

Jul 12, 2018

This story was updated at 6:15 p.m.

The Coral Springs Police Department said on Thursday that it’s open to joining Broward County’s 911 call system, a decision that would streamline the emergency response process across the county.

The state body investigating the Parkland school shooting met at the BB&T Center for the final of its three-day meetings this month to discuss failures with Broward County’s emergency system during the shooting.

Coral Springs Deputy Police Chief Shawn Backer assured the Public Safety Commission that his department will consider consolidating its own 911 system with the county’s.

“We have a commitment from [Broward County administrator Bertha] Henry to collaborate and work towards resolving this,” he said.

The commission, which meets again in August, also discussed Broward County’s mental health system and the Parkland school shooter’s interactions with mental health providers.

The meeting came after the commission reviewed on Wednesday the county's 911 call system following reports that police had difficulty reaching each other on Feb. 14 and that emergency calls during the shooting went to several different call centers.

Read more: Broward County's 911 System Under Scrutiny During Day 2 Of Stoneman Douglas Commission Meeting

Broward County has a county-wide system and two separate ones in Coral Springs and Plantation.

Parkland is unique because its 911 calls on a landline go straight to a county dispatch office. Emergency calls from cell phones in the city, however, are routed to nearby Coral Springs before they are transferred to Broward County for 911 dispatch.

The county has wanted to create one system for all municipalities. But Coral Springs and Plantation decided not to join in 2014.

The commission criticized that decision Wednesday because it has forced Coral Springs' and the county's call centers to transfer calls to each other. The transfers slow down the emergency response process, which occurred during the Parkland school shooting.

Backer at first defended Coral Springs, saying that having its own system allows his police department to more efficiently respond to calls. But he then said the city will consider joining the county's system. 

"I'm confident that if each entity is reasonable and practical, we'll get that done,” he said.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri stressed that Coral Springs’ decision would make emergency communications between law enforcement agencies across Broward more efficient.

"If they don't [join], somebody is going to do it for them," Gualtieri said. "And then you're stuck with a result without having input into what you're stuck with."

It is unclear whether Plantation will also join the county’s 911 system. The city did not have any representatives at the meeting.

Gualtieri said the commission will send a letter to Plantation officials asking them to adopt the county-wide system.