Officials want mayor to release 911 study

April 3, 2012 3:27:56 PM PDT
Some elected officials are urging Mayor Michael Bloomberg to publicly release an independent review of the city's 911 system that his administration is fighting to keep under wraps.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer and City Council Fire and Criminal Justice Committee Chairwoman Elizabeth Crowley sent letters to Bloomberg on Monday, calling on him to release the report commissioned following a December 2010 blizzard that backed up the city's emergency response system and left a number of emergency vehicles stranded in the snow.

The calls followed the publication of a New York Post article that detailed the city's efforts to keep the study private. On Friday, the city, in a dispute with firefighters' unions, submitted court papers arguing the study should not be made public. An earlier subpoena connected to the arbitration had required the city to release the documents. A judge will hear arguments on the issue next week.

Marc La Vorgna, a spokesman for the mayor, declined to confirm the details of the report published in the Post, which said consultants hired by the city found that the city's recently revamped 911 system suffered from problems including delayed response times.

La Vorgna said Monday that the study was not being released because it wasn't yet finished.

"The review of the system by the city and our consultants is still ongoing - we don't release incomplete materials or analysis," he said in an email. "We now have three months of experience with the new system and the review will be completed shortly and released."

Stringer, however, called for immediate action.

"While I understand that the conclusions reached ... may demonstrate significant shortcomings with our 911 system, the fact remains that it is a public record," he said in his letter. "Rather than spending additional time and taxpayer money on further litigation, the city should release this document immediately."

Last month, the city's comptroller issued an audit criticizing the city for its handling of the 911 system overhaul, saying it was $1 billion over budget and seven years behind schedule. Deputy Mayor for Operations Cas Holloway attacked the report as misleading, disputing the figures and arguing most of the cost increase was due to a strategic decision to build the backup center from the ground up.

Critics, including Crowley and Uniformed Firefighters Association President Steve Cassidy, contend that changes to how the city calculates response times are concealing delays in getting help to emergency callers. Administration officials say the overhaul has modernized an out-of-date system and eliminated inefficiencies, improving response times.

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