Fifteen months after its No Confidence vote against Cowlitz 911 Director Deanna Wells, the county’s dispatcher union claims “there has been little to no improvement in the 911 Center.”
The Emergency Services Guild sent a letter Saturday to many governing officials from law enforcement, fire departments, cities and the county. It outlines the union’s frustrations with Wells. It calls her “dishonest”; claims she engages in “retaliatory behavior”; and blames her lack of I.T. support for dispatch delays. It says three more employees have resigned since the union’s original Vote of No Confidence filing in September 2016.
“It is clear in the opinion of the dispatch members that Director Wells is unable to successfully manage the 911 Center,” the letter states. “The Guild acknowledges Director Wells’ knowledge over technical aspects of the 911 Center. However, it appears she cannot effectively manage all other aspects of the 911 Center.”
Along with the letter, the Guild included the resignation letter of former 911 employee Kirby Focht, who resigned on Dec. 26. Focht states that he was frustrated by the lack of staff, noting that the center has only 15 full-time dispatchers. That’s seven short of what management recommends.
He also said management has “created a hostile work environment” due to double standards and a lack of accountability. There is a shortage of dispatchers available to train new recruits and the current dispatcher scheduling system is “counterproductive,” Focht writes.
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In a phone interview Tuesday, Wells only had one comment about the letters: “There’s two sides to every story.”
These letters come at a transitional time for 911: On Jan. 10, the County 911 Council and E-Board unanimously voted in favor of separating the agency from the county’s supervision.
County Commissioner Joe Gardner, who is also a member of the E-Board, said the commissioners are currently waiting for resolutions from all of 911’s user agencies, then they will make a final decision on 911’s fate.
Gardner said the guild letter simply restates all of the Guild’s previous issues from 2016 and their complaints will likely come up at the next 911 Council and E-Board meeting, which will take place Feb. 21.