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Letters to the Editor

Governor needs to approve 9-1-1 system upgrades

9-1-1 is the backbone of public safety, and Illinois’ back is breaking.

On behalf of the sheriffs, the chiefs of police, and all the men and women of public safety in Illinois, we encourage Gov. Rauner to approve SB 1839. Without that approval, the system will be unfunded at the close of business June 30. It’s unthinkable that someone in Illinois might dial 9-1-1 after June 30 and nobody would be there to take the emergency call.

Legislation passed in 2015 requires the consolidation of 9-1-1 systems, and upgrading technology to help our telecommunicators deliver the most professional and expedited service to our communities. Our emergency dispatch centers are required to implement location services, receive text messages and automatic crash alerts within the next 3 years. None of this comes without a cost, and that cost spread across all users is the fairest and most efficient model for delivery.

The goal is to develop a fully-functional 9-1-1 system that meets the demands of ever-changing telecommunications technology in a digital world, while being accessible anytime, anywhere, from any device in Illinois. Providing 9-1-1 services for all members of our community simply cannot be done by keeping old, costly and failing technology in place.

We firmly believe the proposed revenue provided in SB 1839 for 9-1-1 allows for much-needed upgrades to outdated, flawed and ineffective technology – including landline phone services using copper wire – in 9-1-1 centers statewide. The surcharge increase also addresses the rising cost of salaries, technology and resources required to effectively deliver 9-1-1 services across Illinois.

The time is now for Illinois to move forward, not backward, in protecting the citizens we all serve.

Note to readers: White County Sheriff Doug Maier is president of the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association. Oak Brook Police Chief James R. Kruger Jr. is president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.

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