Rockdale commissioners consider changing 911 oversight

CONYERS — A proposal to move management of Rockdale County’s 911 Center operations to the Sheriff’s Office was on the County Commission meeting agenda Tuesday, but commissioners deferred discussion due to the absence of the chairman.

Post 2 Commissioner JaNice Van Ness, acting in the absence of Chairman Richard Oden, said she preferred to postpone the discussion until the next work session when Oden could be present. Post 1 Commissioner Oz Nesbitt agreed. Van Ness said commissioners are looking at the operation of 911 to see what is the best place for management — under the chairman or under the sheriff.

Rockdale’s 911 center is currently overseen by Fire and Rescue Chief Dan Morgan, who was also appointed Emergency Management Agency director by Oden. Morgan said he had first heard of the proposal less than 18 hours before the meeting.

A previous effort in 2009 to move 911 services under the control of the Sheriff’s Office was strongly opposed by Oden. At that time, Oden discounted then-Sheriff Jeff Wigington’s arguments that operation of the 911 center would be more efficient and would save money if it was overseen by the RCSO.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Morgan asked that some discussion about the proposal take place before the commissioners’ next work session.

“Before we bring this back up before the board I would suggest we have some sort of working committee to discuss the pros and cons of doing this for the departments and all of the regular users of Rockdale County,” he said.

Van Ness and Nesbitt agreed with that approach.

“I want to devote the necessary amount of time to this issue and see if it is a viable option or not,” Van Ness said.

Nesbitt said a committee discussion would give Morgan an opportunity to counter the proposal.

“In order for me to counter, as you said, I would love to have some sort of documents from whoever precipitated this event on what the concerns are and why the changes actually needed to take place to begin with — that would be a great starting point,” said Morgan.