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New 911 Leader Named

By Jim Ludwick
Journal Staff Writer
    Pete Dinelli, who has led the city's campaign against graffiti, drug houses and urban blight, will take over the 911 system with orders from the mayor to fix its problems.
    He will be teamed with Chief Administrative Officer Bruce Perlman, who will work on 911 improvements about half time while still handling his other duties.
    Mayor Martin Chávez said at a news conference Monday that they will stay on the task for "as long as it takes."
    Chávez said 911 needs dramatic improvement. He said that Dinelli has been highly successful in difficult assignments and that the presence of Perlman— the highest ranking personnel officer in city government— is "a message to employees" that personnel matters such as individual productivity will not be overlooked as the administration deals with 911.
    The 911 system has been plagued with problems that have landed the city in litigation. Last summer, 21-year-old Randi Regensberg was murdered as her friends pleaded with 911 to send help. It took five 911 calls and 97 minutes for police to respond, and by then she was dead.
    Dinelli, a deputy city attorney, has been heading the Safe City Strike Force, where he has attracted national attention for aggressively confronting drug houses, graffiti, gangs, urban blight and other issues. An assistant city attorney will take on those duties temporarily.
    At the news conference, Dinelli said his new task may be the most important assignment he has ever been given. He said the mayor wants "a major overhaul of the 911 system."
    "We are dealing with life-and-death issues," Dinelli said.
    He said the needs at 911 include enlarging the staff, improving the training and dealing with burnout among employees who have been working long hours.
    Perlman said he views the job "with a tremendous amount of gravity."
    "With the mayor's backing, with my authority, and with the dogged determination that Pete Dinelli has shown in other assignments, we will fix the problem," Perlman said.
    Chávez previously tried to reform 911 by putting it under the leadership of Michael Padilla, who founded the city's highly successful 311 system for nonemergency calls. Padilla resigned over the weekend amid allegations that he made insulting remarks to 911 employees; he denies the allegations.