Madison County, Ill., to File New 911 Consolidation Plan

State law requires that Madison County consolidate the number of 911 call centers, or Public Service Answering Points, by at least half. Under a plan approved by the Emergency Telephone System Board the number of PSAPs would have been reduced to eight from 16.

by Scott Cousins, The Telegraph, Alton, Ill. / March 12, 2019

(TNS) - Madison County, Ill., 911 has rescinded its plan to consolidate its 911 service and will refile a new plan by mid-June.

The action came less than a week before an administrative review hearing on the plan was to be held in Springfield.

State law requires that Madison County consolidate the number of 911 call centers, or Public Service Answering Points, by at least half. Under a plan approved by the Emergency Telephone System Board the number of PSAPs would have been reduced to eight from 16.

However, St. Clair County 9-1-1 had filed an objection to the plan, triggering a series of lawsuits and other legal issues that have delayed the approval and implementation of the plan for almost a year.

In a letter to Madison County police chiefs and PSAP managers, Capt. Eric Decker of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department announced the decision.

The hearing had been the subject of discussion by the ETSB in executive session at last week’s meeting, then later that day during a pre-hearing conference call, the administrative law judge and ISP representatives “indicated their preference that we rescind our plan at this time.”

“By rescinding our plan at this time, our revised plan would be considered ‘from scratch. ‘” the email stated. “Meaning, all previous orders regarding St. Clair Co. intervention would be nullified.

“We discussed our options with our attorney and felt that the best approach for Madison County would be to rescind our plan and resubmit with necessary changes,” he said. “Although this may sound as a setback, the approval process could be shortened to months instead of years. For the safety of the citizens of Madison County, we felt it was in their best interest to do everything that we can to expedite the upgrade/consolidation process. “

Later, Decker said one consideration was that if St. Clair County had appealed a decision favoring Madison County it could take another two years, and no upgrades to the system would be made during that time.

“The path we were on was leading to a lengthy process,” he said.

Madison County 911 has until June 14 to resubmit the plan.

The original hearing was to take place during a single day in late May 2018, but has been reset numerous times because of legal maneuvering between Madison County 911 and St. Clair County 9-1-1.

Madison County was to have implemented its 911 consolidation plan by Aug. 1, but delays in holding the administrative review hearing in Springfield have caused it to miss that deadline. It has also halted negotiations on a new service contract with AT&T until the issue is resolved.

Herb Simmons, executive director of St. Clair County 9-1-1, said they had been ready to move ahead with the hearings.

“I thought we were going to get a conclusion,” he said Friday. “This has been going on for a long time.”

He said their concern has been over potential dropped or rerouted calls along the Madison/St. Clair county boarder, especially in communities that cross over both sides of the border.

“There are communities we dispatch for that sit in both Madison and st. Clair County,” he said. “There have been documented calls that have been misrouted.”

Those are Collinsville, State Park Place, Fairmont City and the city of Madison.

“That’s why it’s important,” he said. “We just want to make sure that the calls are getting to their proper jurisdictions, and there’s no delay.”

Reach reporter Scott Cousins at 618-208-6447.

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