Dane County 911 Center Director Joe Norwick resigned from
his position Friday following months of scrutiny for the center’s mishandling a
call from University of Wisconsin student Brittany Zimmermann’s 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 Norwick’s
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 Norwick’s resignation had to do with
the Zimmermann case.
“I think he was
under pressure from the fourth floor (Falk’s office),” Wiganowsky said.
“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 Zimmermann’s 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.
Madison Police Chief
Noble Wray said there was enough evidence in the call for police to be
notified, contradicting Norwick’s statement.
Falk said a response
to the call could have saved Zimmermann’s life and sent a letter of apology to
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 Krusiec’s 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.
“It’s a high-pressure
job,” Wiganowsky said. “Someone’s 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 Norwick’s skills and experience, especially in implementing
the added technology, which will be the second-largest expense in Dane County