911 Leader Quits Amid Scrutiny In U. Wisconsin Student's Death

This story was written by Becky Vevea, Badger Herald


Dane County 911 Center Director Joe Norwick resigned from his position Friday following months of scrutiny for the centers mishandling a call from University of Wisconsin student Brittany Zimmermanns cell phone the day she was killed.

Josh Wescott, spokesperson for Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, told The Badger Herald he could not say whether Norwicks decision was a result of the controversy surrounding the Zimmermann phone call.

Joe Norwick is an individual who put in 30 years of service, Wescott said, adding he came out of retirement to take the position of 911 Director in July 2007.

But Dane County supervisor David Wiganowsky, District 21, said there is no doubt in my mind that Norwicks resignation had to do with the Zimmermann case.

I think he was under pressure from the fourth floor, Wiganowsky said, referring to Falk's office. Somebody had to get thrown under the bus.

Wiganowsky said the call from Zimmermann is the big thing haunting Falk in her bid for re-election, and she has to cover her butt politically.

In April, Norwick said the call from Zimmermanns phone was a hang-up call, which the 911 Center routinely does not respond to. He said on that day, 115 hang-up calls were made, 83 of them from cell phones.

Zimmerman's boyfriend later found her stabbed to death in the apartment the two shared.

Madison Police Chief Noble Wray said there was enough evidence in the call for police to be notified, contradicting Norwicks statement.

Falk said a response to the call could have saved Zimmermanns life and sent a letter of apology to Zimmermanns family.

Norwick refused to admit any mistakes were made on the part of the 911 Center.

Wiganowsky said the County Executive received numerous letters regarding the Zimmermann controversy, many pressuring Falk to fire Norwick.

Norwick will officially leave office Friday, Sept. 19, and Kathy Krusiec, director of Dane County Emergency Management, will fill in as interim director. Dave Janda, Deputy Director of Emergency Management, will be taking over Krusiecs duties during that period of time.

Wescott said the department will be conducting a national search and screening for a full-time replacement.

The department will be looking for someone with good communication skills and the ability to manage new technology, specifically a new computer system Falk has budgeted for in 2009, Wescott said.

Its a high-pressure job, Wiganowsky said. Someones going to have to have a cool hand to do it.

Wiganowsky also said the County Board will have to consider the salary and benefits of the position by looking at similar positions in other 911 Centers of comparable size.

Wescott said it would be difficult to find a replacement with Norwicks skills and experience, especially in implementing the added technology, which will be the second-largest expense in Dane County budgets history.
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