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Muskego Police Files Complaint With FCC

With talks at a stalemate between the city and Waukesha County, the department says the next step was to force the County to release access to cell towers to enable wireless 911 capability.

Police Chief Paul Geiszler updated the Public Safety Committee Wednesday night about the progress, or lack thereof, for primary wireless 911 to come to the city.

Saying the county "appeared not to care" that response times would be far better if the city has access to cell towers for locally-based 911 calls coming from cell phones, he announced they have filed a formal complaint with the FCC.

Cell phone providers have various policies in granting access to reroute calls at the towers, and so far T-Mobile has been the only carrier that will grant the permission at the corporate level.  Other carriers require the permission of the County to do so.

"They are being obstructionists - we feel this is something we are legally entitled to," Geiszler said.  He had referred to a meeting where police officials, Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti, County Executive Dan Vrakas and Emergency Preparedness Director Richard Tuma met, where they had initially expressed an interest in cooperating.

"What that meant is that they wanted Muskego to stay with WCCC and they weren't going to allow us access to the towers," he said.

At issue is the current emergency center based in Waukesha, which serves many communities, including Muskego, for wireless 911 dispatch.  The Waukesha County Communications Center (WCCC) takes these calls and routes them to the appropriate communities. However, since Muskego has developed the appropriate phone trunks and upgraded their systems, the ability now exists to take cellular 911 calls in Muskego and respond to them directly at the MPD dispatch center.  The department has maintained the primary reason for the expense was to save precious seconds in an emergency.

Depending on the stats, the amount of seconds vary.  Tuma had responded to our inquiry, stating that "all calls except one were transferred to the city within a low of 13 seconds to a high of 60 seconds, or on average 43.8 seconds." These numbers came from an analysis of data from January 2011.

Geiszler told the committee that their own data, compiled in June of 2011, showed the number to be 72.6 seconds, and as a demonstration, timed out the delay for the members.

While it was pointed out that making Muskego a primary public safety answering point might draw calls in from other communities near its borders as cell towers could capture those calls and forward them to Muskego, Geiszler said that their current staff levels could handle those calls.

The committee decided to invite Tuma, Vrakas and the County Supervisors whose area includes Muskego, Dan Draeger and Peter Gundrum, to their next meeting to question them on why they are refusing access to the cell towers.

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