MSD Commission Focuses on Mental Healthcare, Communications Failures On Last Day Of Meetings

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The state body that's investigating the Parkland school shooting is continuing talks Thursday about Broward County's 911 system, gun purchase laws and mental healthcare. 

On the final day of its three-day meetings this month, the Public Safety Commission is discussing communication failures of the county's emergency 911 and radio systems that delayed the response during the shooting.

The commission has already received assurances that Coral Springs will work to join the county's 911 response system to make communication between different law enforcement agencies more seamless. Coral Springs decided not to join the county's system in 2014. 

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

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

The commission will conclude the three-day session on Thursday with talks about the Broward County mental health system and the Parkland school shooter's interactions with mental health providers. 

The meeting comes 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. 

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. But an emergency call from a cell phone in the city is routed to nearby Coral Springs before it is transferred to Broward County for 911 dispatch.

The county has wanted to create one system, but Coral Springs and Plantation decided not to join in 2014. The commission criticized that decision on 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. 

Coral Springs Deputy Police Chief Shawn Backer defended the city on Wednesday, saying that having its own system allows his police department to more efficiently respond to calls. But on Thursday he said Coral Springs is now willing to join the county's system. 

"What we're telling you we're willing to do is be flexible to collaborate and work towards resolving this," he said. "I'm confident that if each entity is reasonable and practical, we'll get that done." 

Gualtieri said such a decision would streamline emergency communications between agencies.