Update: Plan approved to overcome replacement system flaws

Members of a group representing users of the region's troubled 9-1-1 system promised to fix the problems but released few details after a lengthy Thursday meeting.

A majority of the Bureau of Emergency Communications User Board voted to exclude the press from the meeting, but afterwards Fairview Police Chief Ken Johnson said they had adopted a 57-point plan to fix the problems that surfaced after it was activated on April 17.

"We are all on the same page and care about our employees' safety and that was the focus of everyone in that room today and we're going to make it happen," said Johnson, chair of the board, after the three-hour meeting.

Johnson did not detail all of the points, however.

Portland operates the countywide 9-1-1 dispatch system that receives and sends critical information to police, fire and medical responders during emergencies. The replacement 9-1-1 dispatch system cost $14.5 million. Since it was activated, some users have complained publicly that it is not as good as the previous system and is potentially compromising public safety.

In February, the board voted not to pay nearly $2 million in increased operation and maintenance costs for the replacement system, saying some users could not afford it. City Commissioner Amanda Fritz is in charge of BOEC. She has defended the operation of the replacement system, saying most problems are minor and being fixed.

The board met at the BOEC headquarters Thursday for the first time since the system was activated. Prior to the meeting, the Portland city attorney issued an opinion saying the board was not a public agency but could invite anyone to its meetings. When reporters first showed up for the meeting, Gresham Fire Division Chief Jim Klum said the board would meet briefly in private to vote on whether to admit them. After 30 minutes, Troutdale Police Chief Scott Anderson came out to say the board had decided by majority vote not to open the meeting to reporters.

An agenda released before the meeting said the board would discuss the replacement 9-1-1 system, which has prompted hundreds of user complaints in the month it has been in use.

The board was also expected to discuss an internal investigation released Wednesday that blamed an unnamed BOEC dispatch supervisor for not issuing reverse 9-1-1 calls to residents living near Precision Castparts during last week's toxic spill. The investigation found the supervisor did not know that the protocol for issuing the calls had changed two years ago.

Fox News 12 contributed to this story.

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