Atlanta-in-DeKalb residents fear 911 call mix-ups may cost lives

by: Carl Willis Updated:

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ATLANTA - Atlanta-in-DeKalb residents are being put on hold and transferred when they call 911, and a city councilwoman says valuable resources are being wasted.

Natalyn Archibong got a unanimous vote from the city council this week to create a new task force to resolve several issues with the emergency call system.

Neighborhoods like East Lake, Candler Park and Kirkwood are getting routed to DeKalb County operators when they're actually in the City of Atlanta's jurisdiction. When people just south of those neighborhoods call 911, they could either reach DeKalb or Atlanta 911 operators.

"DeKalb County gets here before the city of Atlanta gets here," said East Lake resident Tempie Ashe.

"That's a waste of resources," said Archibong. "It's a waste of time. We need to get this resolved and we need to do it now."

Craig Burns also lives right on the border in East Lake.

He told Channel 2's Carl Willis he recently dialed 911 when he noticed a woman, who appeared to be under the influence walking in the middle of Memorial Drive.

"I was on hold for about five minutes and I ended up hanging up," said Burns. "They called me back saying, 'Give us the details,' and such."

He said holding for minutes when seconds count could be deadly.

"There's a break in the process somewhere especially with 911 considering the crime we've had in the area," said Burns.

Archibong's task force will be made up of stakeholders in the community.

They've been given 90 days to come to the table with ideas to fix the problems.

"One of the options I've heard is maybe we need to do a little more annexing," said Archibong. "I know that's a bad word, but clarifying the boundary lines."

Some residents said the price for not resolving this may be too high.

"We're in the outskirts of right in between DeKalb County, Decatur, city of Atlanta, and there's no clear path for us to understand who we need to call," said Burns.

Archibong said the findings of the District 5 Atlanta-in-DeKalb Police Jurisdiction Task Force could be used in other areas of metro Atlanta.