Starting Monday, the Lexington Division of Enhanced 911 will be put back under the supervision of the police and fire departments.
The restructuring is on an interim basis while city officials work to secure funding that would move the city's E-911, Emergency Management and LexCall divisions into one place, Public Safety Commissioner Clay Mason said.
If the move is successful, management options for the troubled E-911 might be explored, "but my focus right now is to try and get everybody into one building," Mason said.
The recommendation to again put E-911 under police and fire came after a lengthy management assessment of the Division of Enhanced 911 by Glenn Brown, a former jail director and special adviser to Mayor Jim Gray.
Emergency dispatchers and call-takers have not been under the supervision of the police and fire departments since 2004, when 911 was changed to a stand-alone division under the supervision of director David Lucas.
Brown's report found an unstructured management and low employee morale. The assessment, which lasted from February to April, determined that there was "little to no involvement" by management in day-to-day operations, contributing to low morale.
Other morale problems were caused by excessive mandatory overtime, managers' mishandling of personnel problems, and minimal training "regarding stress and unique working environment," according to a report presented to the Urban County Council earlier this year.
The mayor "said he was going to examine 911 management and make changes if necessary, and that's what he's doing," city spokeswoman Susan Straub said.
Lucas will no longer supervise E-911. Instead, he will work for E-911, doing administrative work and coordinating special projects, such as the installation of a new radio communications system, Mason said. The division's current radio, which was installed in the 1980s, is outdated and potentially unsafe: there are "dead spots" in the Fayette County where communication cuts out.
The aging radio system could lead to hefty federal fines if it isn't replaced by 2013, Lucas has said previously.
Lucas "will be instrumental in helping us as project manager on those type of events," Mason said.
Lucas could not be reached for comment.
As far as the move of E-911, Emergency Management and LexCall is concerned, Mason said it was too early to discuss. He said officials are considering remodeling a building that is currently vacant if funding from federal sources comes through.
Previously, the city planned to use federal funding to help build an emergency operations center that would house Emergency Management, LexCall and E-911, but the project fizzled after several missteps, including a growth in projected cost from about $23 million to more than $42 million.
The city also could not agree on which divisions should be housed in the new building or even where it should be situated.
But Mason said this time the plan is more likely to come to fruition because the building is already built, and retrofitting it would cost a fraction of building a new one.
"I'm optimistic that we can make it work," he said.