SCITUATE, RI - Members of the Rhode Island State Police command staff, personnel from the State's E911 program and senior staff to the Governor met this afternoon with FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly and Brooke Ericson, Chief of Staff at the Federal Communications Commission. State officials requested the meeting prior to a previously-scheduled tour of the E911 facility.
During the meeting, state officials provided historical context about E911's funding practices, including information about legislative action taken in 2000 to eliminate a dedicated funding account for E911. That legislative action established a practice of allocating 911 telecommunications fees to the Rhode Island General Fund and to the state information technology fund.
Earlier this year, Governor Raimondo directed the Department of Public Safety to fill all remaining telecommunications vacancies at E911. Since then the department has hired five new personnel. The department is currently recruiting and expects to hire additional telecommunications professionals this spring. Additionally, Governor Raimondo's FY19 budget proposal requests that the legislature approve two additional telecommunications positions at E911.
Rhode Island's E911 response time is faster than national standards recommended by the National Emergency Numbers Association (NENA). More than 95 percent of calls are answered in 10 seconds or less. In January, more than 96 percent of calls were answered within 10 second and in February more than 97 percent of calls were. After 10 seconds, calls are placed into queue. The average wait time in queue last year was 17 seconds. Out of more than 496,000 calls to Rhode Island's E911 last year, 1,643 - three-tenths of one percent of all calls - were in queue for more than 45 seconds.
Rhode Island is on track to launch Next Generation 911 later this year, which will allow Rhode Islanders to text 911 when a caller is unable or unwilling to call 911 and provide a verbal account of an incident. The administration officials made clear to the FCC representatives that if the Rhode Island General Assembly were to consider reforms, including action to reinstate a restricted account for E911 and proposals to allow for E911 funds to be shared with local communities, such reforms would be welcome.