911 Center calls increase in 2012

COVINGTON -- Calls for service handled by the Covington-Newton County 911 Communications Center increased 3.45 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to the center's annual report.

"Since 2001, the 911 Center has seen a rapid increase in calls for service to our present level with no increase in staffing levels until July 2011. In spite of these numbers, the 911 Center continues to work diligently to answer every call as quickly and as professionally as possibly," said Director Mike Smith.

The center handled 129,030 calls for local law enforcement, fire, EMS and animal control.

Of those, 108,468 calls, or about 84 percent, involved law enforcement agencies, an increase of 2.88 percent since 2011.

More than half of those calls -- 51.22 percent , or 66,086 -- were dispatched to the Newton County Sheriff's Office. Calls dispatched to the Covington Police Department totaled 33,113, or 25.66 percent. Total calls dispatched to Porterdale Police Department was 6,576, or 5.10 percent. Oxford Police were dispatched to 1,933 calls, or 1.5 percent of total calls, and animal control was dispatched to 760 calls, or .59 percent of total calls.

A total of 9,335 fire calls were generated, accounting for 7.23 percent of total calls. Newton County Fire Service was dispatched to 6,536 calls, and Covington Fire Department to 2,799 calls.

EMS calls generated totaled 11,227, or 8.7 percent of total calls.

The center received 78,335 emergency 9-1-1 calls, an increase of 4.6 percent from 2011, according to the report.

Average call dispatch time decreased from 2 minutes, 5 seconds in 2011 to 1 minute, 38 seconds in 2012, according to the report. Also, 98 percent of 911 calls were answered within 10 seconds.

Staff with the Covington-Newton County 911 Center completed nearly 1,800 hours of training during the year, not including training of new recruits. An average of 47 hours of annual training per employee was achieved, with many exceeding that amount, according to the report.

In addition, five complaints were investigated in 2012, with three sustained for neglect of duty and two determined to be unfounded.

"Our communications center made at least 116,453 contacts with the public this year ... The number of complaints received compared to the contacts made with the public shows that less than .00004 of contacts result in a complaint filed. No investigation revealed the need to change policy or training practices, however all sustained complaints resulted in remedial training and/or disciplinary actions for those individual employees," the report states.

Employees received nine commendations during 2012.

Finally, in November 2012 the 911 Center became the first public safety communications center in the state of Georgia and the second in the world to receive reaccreditation after being assessed under the new Gold Standards Assessment instituted by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

An agency must voluntarily request permission from CALEA to be assessed under the more stringent standards, which measure the impact of accreditation versus just reviewing files.