Lake County 911 director quits, stunning members
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent February 28, 2013 11:48AM
Updated: April 2, 2013 6:25AM
Lake County’s 911 director walked off the job Thursday leaving the various 911 centers throughout the county without a go-to person if problems with their equipment arise.
Jeff Cicillian told the Lake County Public Safety Communications Commission, the group tasked with consolidating the county’s 911 service, that while the Lake County Commissioners approved his contract for services twice before, they extended it until only March 31 this year.
“I’m done. I’d like to thank the chiefs for backing me all these years. As of today I’m done with 911,” Cicillian said, adding he has accepted another job offer.
Cicillian has been assisting on the E-911 consolidation process as part of his duties as director. However one of his main tasks as the 911 director was coordinating distribution and replacement of 911 equipment for call centers throughout the county.
The news left the room full of police and fire chiefs stunned.
“Who do we turn to in the county for 911 without Jeff Cicillian?,” asked Fred Frego, St. John chief of police.
Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub, D-Crown Point said departments can go directly to the state 911 commission if problems arise with their systems while county commissioners work to replace Cicillian.
That answer did not sit well with some of the 911 commission members and those in the audience.
Cliff Wroe, who oversees dispatch for St. John police, said when they call the state for assistance the state sends out AT&T to resolve the problem. That takes a long time and often those who respond do not have the expertise to address the problem.
“Jeff has always kind of taken care of that. If we have a computer problem, we call Jeff and he brings one out,” Wroe said.
After the meeting Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said he has great concerns about the lack of a 911 director for the county and the direction the E-911 commission appears to be heading at this time.
“We have no go-to person right now. There is a void here that has to be filled immediately,” Buncich said, adding equipment problems do not happen frequently, but because of the nature of police and fire work when a problem does arise it needs to be addressed quickly.
Buncich was disappointed by the progress being made by the commission and its current lack of any consultants familiar with consolidating 911 services.
“This has made a complete U-turn,” Buncich said
Last month Lake County Commissioners, upon the recommendation of the E-911 commission, advertised for requests for qualifications for consultants to replace project engineer IYP and architect RQAW Inc. Both firms were allowed to participate in the process. At the time E-911 members sent a recommendation to the Lake County Commissioners asking to retain Cicilian; Tom Dabertin, human resources consultant; and attorney John Bushemi.
It was later learned Bushemi would not be able to continue in his role due to a county ordinance prohibiting attorneys from representing two county entities. Bushemi is the sheriff’s attorney as well. Michelle Wendlinger with Cohen, Kelly, Olson, DeHaan and Richter LLC was tapped Thursday to replace Bushemi pending county commissioners’ approval.
Scheub after the meeting said that while Cicillian’s contract was through the end of March he could not control his leaving early. He said he would be meeting with 911 personal from Highland and the Emergency Management Agency Thursday afternoon to come up with a stop-gap plan in case an emergency arises.
“This will not stop the process. It will continue to move forward,” Scheub said.
He expects they will be able to replace Cicillian by the end of March.