Council admits issues with Tucson 911 system

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- There have been ongoing reports of problems plaguing the Tucson's new 911 system.

Dispatchers dispute claims by city officials that everything is working.

Tuesday at council, city leaders admitted difficulties, but offered no timetable for solutions.

City Manager Mike Letcher admitted communication has been a problem.

"I want to be the first one to admit we haven't done a good job in that area," said Letcher.

The new Qwest 911 system went on-line May 25, the problems started days later and several still aren't resolved.

"There's not a specific time frame for a lot of [the problems] there aren't specific solutions at this point," said General Services Department Head Ron Lewis.

A month before the switch, 96.7% of 911 calls were answered within 10 seconds.

After June of 2011, that number had dropped to 93.5%.  Thirty days later the number dipped further to 91.5%.

Still, Lewis says callers should not be concerned.

"I am absolutely convinced they are safe and will get response," said Lewis.

Response time is also taking a hit under the new system.  It now takes 86 seconds to get police or fire out the door, about 3.5-5 seconds longer than before.

Councilman Steve Kozachik didn't buy a lot of the answers he got Tuesday.

"That answer frankly ticked me off," said Kozachik. 

"People must feel comfortable dialing 911 and that their call is going to be answered and that help is going to be on the way," said Councilwoman Regina Romero.

The council won't feel comfortable until all the kinks are worked out, but still no timetable for when that will happen.

Qwest representatives did not attend the Tuesday night meeting, but responded to questions saying there are no problems with the technology.  They say the problems are administrative and procedural.