Serious issues persist at Tucson’s 911 call center

Published: Oct. 16, 2020 at 6:18 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A just released report (which you can find here) paints a dysfunctional operation at the Public Safety Communications Department in Tucson. The PSCD dispatches 911 calls for both police and fire departments.

The Tucson City Manager, Michael Ortega, called for the report last summer amid “concerns about the workplace and environment” which were brought to him by the employees who worked there.

Three years ago, amid personnel issues at the call center, the city decided to put both city police and fire dispatch units in the same place.

But according to the report, that decision has “caused multiple issues of significant concern."

Tucson’s Mayor, Regina Romero, called for the issue to be added to the council agenda immediately.

“This particular department is the front line in serving our community,” Romero said. “This department being so important, an error can cost a life.”

The report conducted by Traaen & Associates LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Phoenix, interviewed 108 employees in the call center.

The employees told the firm that having police and fire dispatchers in the same space is not workable.

At least one employee said “this is a sinking ship.” Another said this is “total dysfunction.”

Others said the cultures of the two departments prevented them from working together.

“Fire born vs. Police born - employees will let colleagues fail before heping due to this,” said another.

23 employees have been disciplined for a variety of things such as sexual harassment, bullying and fighting.

“When I read the report and really looked at the issues listed, sexual harassment, mistreatment of the LGBTQ+ community and workers, it really enraged me,” Romero said.

The call center has had issues in the recent past. The city had to work to contain a COVID-19 outbreak during the height of the spring spike.

Now, according to the report, the management has been falsifying data about cleaning and the number of cases of coronavirus.

“I want to make sure the city manager comes to us with a plan to fix this immediately,” said Mayor Romero. “So that we can have the trust from our community.”

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