Wheeler appoints Bureau of Emergency Communications director
Mayor Ted Wheeler has appointed an experienced 9-1-1 administrator as head of the trouble Portland Bureau of Emergency Communications.
Bob Cozzie started his career as a 9-1-1 call taker for the local sheriff's office in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Since then, he has held several positions in 9-1-1 agencies, most recently with 12 years as the director of Clackamas 9-1-1. He is also a board member of the non-profit Responder Life, which helps to equip first responders, and a volunteer at the Portland Rescue Mission.
"We look forward to the experience and talent Bob brings to the bureau," Wheeler said when announcing the appointment. "It is a key step in improving bureau operations and providing strategies to improve staff retention, all which are essential to providing efficient and effective service to our community members in need."
According to the mayor's office, Cozzie's appointment achieves the last of the three goals Mayor Wheeler set for the Bureau of Emergency Communications when he took over the bureau in 2017:
• Appoint a permanent director
• Adopt performance measures that reflect national standards
• Engage in collaborative efforts between the city and county to implement a system for better deployment of fire services
Cozzie takes over for Lisa St. Helen, who had been serving as Interim director since April 1, 2017. She returns to her duties as operations manager.
The bureau has been criticized in recent years for staffing shortages and a call response system that dropped many cell phone calls for help. Most calls to 9-1-1 are now placed by cell phones nationally.
The bureau serves as the vital connection between the community and emergency service responders by answering 9-1-1 and non-emergency public safety calls, coordinating proper response, and dispatching appropriate resources.
"My primary goals are to bring stakeholders from our community, member agencies, and the amazing 9-1-1 professionals within the Bureau of Emergency Communications to develop strategies, policies, and procedures that provide the best services possible," Cozzie said in the announcement.