City council wants answers for 911 glitches

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Tucson's new 911 system is under fire, after weeks of reports of glitches and serious problems with the new technology that may have led to the death of a 10-year-old girl.

Now council members want answers.

When seconds matter, there's no place for technical problems.

"We're talking about people's lives," said Councilman Steve Kozachik.

But the switch to a new 911 system has had a long list of problems.

"It wouldn't go.  Automatic transfer wasn't working properly," said General Services Department Head Ron Lewis.  "All of a sudden calls weren't there."

But Ron Lewis, who oversees dispatchers says that was just the first few weeks. The kinks he insists, are all worked out.

"That looks like its taken care of the last of the issues," said Lewis.

Qwest is the company behind the new system.  Officials were not available for questions, but released a statement.

During the installation process some technical issues were identified, but were immediately resolved.  In no case was public safety jeopardized.

"I am convinced they are not dangerous, that the public is not in danger in anyway," said Lewis.

But Councilman Steve Kozachik doesn't buy it. He feels the city made critical mistakes with the roll-out of the new system.

"They knew they were having problems and a young girl dies," said Kozachik.  "Clearly we have problems with the system.  If we didn't have continuing problems with the system, Qwest wouldn't still be here."

And he's not alone.

"We on the council are very concerned with public safety.  We want 100% response to every call that comes in," said Councilwoman Shirley Scott.

But it's not just technology posing problems.

"The real foundation of the 911 system is people," said Lewis

And those workers are dealing with a lot behind the scenes.

"It's already a stressful job.  Lop on top of that the fact that they're understaffed and on top of that a system that is unreliable and it just doubles and triples the stress levels," said Kozachik.

There's no going back to the old system, but council members say there's plenty that can be done and they will look for answers at their next scheduled meeting, August 9.