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Brookhaven City Council will join the private 911 authority known as ChatComm later this year.

City Council voted to approve an agreement with the Chattahoochee River 911 Authority at a March 25 meeting following the encouragement of the city manager and police chief, who said the move would improve police response times and improve safety for police officers.

When asked what he would recommend, Police Chief Gary Yandura said, “unequivocally, move over to ChatComm.”

Yandura said he has not been satisfied with DeKalb’s 911 service. He said there have been complaints of delays on emergency calls, and he’s heard officers complain that they aren’t able to communicate with dispatchers once they are on a call.

Currently, DeKalb County dispatches Brookhaven’s emergency calls. Brookhaven will become the fourth city to join the Chattahoochee River 911 Authority, or ChatComm, which is owned by Sandy Springs and Johns Creek, and operated by iXP Corporation. The city of Dunwoody uses the 911 authority as well.

The council voted 3-1 to approve an agreement with ChatComm. Councilman Jim Eyre voted against it because he felt potential delays in transferring fire and emergency calls needed more consideration.

“I don’t know that we have fully vetted the issues,” Eyre said. “While they are the minority of calls, they are the most life threatening.”

Because Brookhaven is still served by DeKalb County Fire and Rescue, fire and emergency medical calls will be answered by ChatComm and then transferred to DeKalb County for dispatch. Police calls, which make up the majority of 911 calls, will be dispatched directly through ChatComm.

Capt. Tom Burrell, of DeKalb County Fire Station 2 on Dresden Drive, told the council that transferring a call from ChatComm to DeKalb County could create a delay lasting 90 seconds to 2 minutes, moments that could be critical in an emergency.

Mayor J. Max Davis said he is aware of the possible delay, but feels it’s better to improve response times on a majority of 911 calls.

“I understand the ratios. But I don’t think a person calling because their loved one’s having an emergency cares about the ratios,” Burrell said.

Dunwoody, which also transfers fire and emergency calls to DeKalb County, has unsuccessfully tried to develop a system known as “CAD-to-CAD” that would automatically send information between the DeKalb and ChatComm computers, eliminating the need for a manual transfer.

“The CAD-to-CAD system, while simple in description, has taken more than two years and it’s still not ready to go,” said Joe Estey of iXP Corporation. “I can’t tell you where it stands.”

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