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City To Council: Full Probe Of 911 Call Center Glitches Underway

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A City Council hearing Friday on the city's new 911 system had the Bloomberg administration playing defense, and the family of a 4-year-old girl who died after a delayed emergency response had a front-row seat. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

The death of 4-year-old Ariel Russo has put the Bloomberg administration's new 911 system under fire.

There was a four-minute delay in sending emergency services to the scene of the accident where Russo was killed.

"The lifeline we all count on does not arrive in time," said Sophia Russo, Ariel's mother. "In this case, it was my daughter who waited."

On Friday, the Bloomberg administration came to the City Council to defend itself. The family sat in the front row.

"Ms. Russo, I am terribly sorry for your loss, and again, you have our commitment. We are going to get to the bottom of what happened," said Deputy Mayor Cas Holloway.

After the marathon hearing, Sophia Russo questioned whether that would happen.

"We need to demand that this 911 system be fixed," she said.

Equipped with a PowerPoint, Holloway said that the city's new 911 system is much better than it used to be.

"A lot of improvements and changes needed to be made, and they are being made, and the result is a much more reliable system with faster response time," he said.

The $2 billion project has been ongoing for about six years. It put the city's emergency dispatch services under one roof, a system that had been spread out across the five boroughs.

Unions, especially those affiliated with the fire department, allege it is riddled with glitches.

"The change that was made in 2009 did not help them. It did not help the public," said Stephen Cassidy of the Uniformed Firefighter Association. "The simple answer is, go back to the old system."

The deputy mayor dismissed the criticism.

"I think that the easy thing to do is listen to a loud voice criticize a system, make claims that have no basis in fact, and then stick to them because, I don't know, it sells newspapers," Holloway said.

The Russo family has called for an independent investigation into the response to their daughter's death Their attorney suggested it might be something for the Manhattan District Attorney's Office.

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