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911 center shines in report
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The Covington-Newton County 911 Communications Center released its annual report for 2012, and the center saw an increased call volume of 3.45 percent from the previous year.

Perhaps the most important statistic was average dispatch time, which is the time from the acceptance of an address for a 911 call to the assignment of a responding unit. This time decreased by 27 seconds from 2011 to 2012 to 1 minute, 38 seconds.

Mike Smith, the center’s director, said the center has been granted more positions to help with the increase in calls.
“We had an increase last year as well, so we were given four more positions to work with,” Smith said.“Unfortunately, we just haven’t been able to fill those yet. It is something we are actively pursuing.”

Smith said the training process and job are both intense, which is partially why it’s been hard to find good employees to fill the extra spots.

The report highlighted the usefulness of a mobile phone in case of an emergency. Wireless 911 calls increased by more than 5 percent and were 72.21 percent of total emergency calls.

Of the 78,335 total 911 calls, 98 percent were answered in less than 10 seconds.

The communications center only received five complaints out of a total of 116,000 calls. Of those, two were unfounded and none of the investigations revealed the need to change procedure or training practices. The percentage of complaints received compared to call volume is less than 0.00004 percent.

“You’re always going to get complaints,” Smith said. “I would absolutely love to see it get to zero, but we investigate all of them thoroughly. I’m very proud of that ratio to handle that volume of calls.”

The 911 center completed 1,799.75 hours of training in 2012, not including new recruits. This averaged to 47 hours per employee.

In November 2012, the Covington-Newton 911 Communications Center became the first public safety communications center in Georgia and the second in the world to receive Gold Standards Assessment under CALEA, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

Agencies must request permission from CALEA to be assessed under the Gold Standards Assessment.
Smith said the process was much more involved than previous accreditations.

“Our people are our strongest asset and we wanted the assessors to spend more time with them so they could see for themselves how professional and effective they are and how the CALEA process has made our center better. We welcomed the higher level of scrutiny,” Smith said