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Resident urges improvement in non-emergency city telecommunications

            A Rocky River resident has asked the city to improve its non-emergency telecommunications methods.

            “I know it’s in your budget. I know it’s in your plans. But I just want you to rethink that,” Tom Lewins told city council at its’ last meeting. “I would encourage you to work with Police Chief (Kelly) Stillman to rethink …and maybe even reprioritize telecommunications needs this city has, to deal with some issues, particularly those that are not 911,” Lewins told council.

            Lewins declined to go into detail or elaborate on his discussion of the topic with Stillman and Mayor Pam Bobst. “For purposes of not sharing the details, I won’t go into all that,” he stated.

            Addressing the non-emergency phone network, Lewins stated, “Sometimes when you have a new and unusual event, the protocol does not exactly fit. It’s all simply a matter of adjustments which I call course correction.”

            Lewins continued, “Over the last 15 years, there has been a significant change in the way we communicate, particularly in this community with the internet and telecommunications. Sometimes we don’t keep pace with what’s taking place outside the network of our government.” He urged city officials to work together for improvement of these methods.

            When reached later, Stillman clarified that Lewins’ concerns focused on the phone system’s ability to provide time and date information. According to city officials, Lewins concerns were over the regular city communications system, not the 911 structure, and had nothing to do with events surrounding his son’s recent suicide.

            “In a nutshell, he asked for information from the phone system. He wanted times and records,” said Stillman, who had been named chief in January and was familiarizing himself with the system.   He went back to Lewins with the information. “He then decided on (the idea) that the city should get a new phone system,” said Stillman.

            Stillman added that after obtaining the requested information, he along with Bobst met with Lewins, who still maintained that the communications network needed an overhaul.

            Due to budget constraints, Stillman said the city’s decade old communications system will not be replaced in the near future.

            “There are all kinds of things on the technology market, but our system meets our needs. It hasn’t failed us, it hasn’t put anyone in jeopardy,” he commented, comparing it to a high mileage car. “It gets us from point A to point B,” Stillman commented.

            Bobst, when reached by phone, explained that while the phone network has the ability to track the date and time of incoming calls, this is not done immediately.

            “We do upgrade the system. This does not mean our system is compromised,” she said of the set-up. She added that Lewins’ concern was over the speed at which incoming calls could be tracked.  For example, Lewins said that the tracking down of prank calls would be made much more efficient. Bobst also said that Lewins is familiar with phone systems due to his business.

            Council President Jim Moran told Lewins that his concerns would be taken into account. “We appreciate the information you shared with us. Councilman (Tom) Hunt will be having a meeting in the future under the safety committee he chairs. I’m sure that information will be taken to note,” he stated.



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