Thursday, April 21, 2016

Coker out as E-911 Center director

Bob Coker
The Knox County E-911 Board of Directors began implementing a number of changes Wednesday including cutting ties with the center’s executive director and moving toward a change that would hook its emergency responder radio system onto a state network.

The board agreed to pay Bob Coker, the E-911 Center's embattled long-time director, a $36,000 severance package that includes benefits for three months.

Alan Bull, the center’s technical services manager, will serve as interim executive director.

On Wednesday, the board also asked the county’s purchasing department to create a memorandum of understanding with the Tennessee Valley Regional Communications System, so Knox County can tap into the state's emergency network.

The plan also calls for the county to build a $1 million master site so the center can work independently if the state system goes down.

“We think this is the best option because we kind of get the best of both worlds,” said Collin Ickes, director of the Knoxville-Knox County Emergency Management Agency. “With the valley system option, that makes us part of a bigger system and you don’t have quite the same local control. But by having master site here, well, that kind of retains our own autonomy and gives us local control.”

The county could end up saving about $400,000 during the next seven years if the E-911 Center expands with the state rather than builds its own rather than buys its own digital radio system.

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