After waiting nearly a month to make a decision, the oversight board for Pierce County’s new 9-1-1 agency voted unanimously last week to confirm Andrew Neiditz as its first executive director – but still didn’t have him.
The hiring of Neiditz, who is Lakewood’s city manager, hinges on reaching a contract agreement with him. The South Sound 911 Policy Board said it hoped negotiations would be completed in time to be considered at its next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 23 at Lakewood City Hall.
The salary range for the position is $175,000 to $205,000.
The board, which consists of elected officials from South Sound 911 jurisdictions, made Neiditz its choice during a public meeting last Wednesday. The vote followed three weeks of deliberation on a recommendation made in December by a panel of police and fire chiefs in favor of Neiditz over 31 other candidates.
The board “is confident” that Neiditz “can meet the challenge of building a modern, unified emergency communication and response system,” said County Executive Pat McCarthy, the board’s chairwoman.
Neiditz was selected because of his local experience and knowledge of Pierce County, including his early involvement with helping form the county’s first enhanced-911 system, according to board members. His 25 years in local government includes being Lakewood city manager since 2005, Sumner’s city administrator, and two positions with the county – deputy county executive and, later, executive director of public safety, where he provided oversight of six departments.
Neiditz is among 32 people from 18 states who applied for the South Sound 911 post. After the field was narrowed to three finalists, he was the top choice of a search committee and the Combined Operations Board, which voted Dec. 14 to recommend his hiring. The operations board members are chiefs of police and fire departments that belong to South Sound.
Formerly known as the Law Enforcement Support Agency (LESA), South Sound 911 is the result of approval by voters countywide in the 2011 election to create a new emergency communications agency that is modernized and more efficient. Officials say new, state-of-the-art equipment and dispatch centers, funded in part by local taxes, will be a major improvement over the old system, which has experienced voids in electronic communication preventing some first-responders from being in touch with others in various areas, including southeast Pierce County.
“We have made huge strides in building this new agency,” McCarthy said. “We’ve begun building the new radio network that will provide seamless communication among first-responders. We’re evaluating 9-1-1 dispatch facility needs. And now we have selected the first executive director.”