After two outside hires lasted a combined three years, Douglas County hired its new 911 director from within this time around, naming Deputy Director Kathy Allen to the post.

Allen started as a 911 operator in 1996. She has worked for Douglas County 911 for nearly 23 years. On Tuesday, the County Board formally named her as the new Douglas County emergency communications director. The vote was unanimous.

Douglas County 911 handles calls from Omahans and all other Douglas County residents, and dispatches and emergency communications for the city’s Police and Fire Departments, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office and all the other law enforcement and fire departments in the county.

“Kathy Allen has been there a long time,” said Patrick Bloomingdale, Douglas County’s chief administrative officer. “She has a great rapport with the employees. She knows 911, but she also knows the staff.”

Allen’s selection was not a surprise. She has been serving as interim director since David Sleeter resigned in June. She had been the deputy 911 director since March 2017.

National searches had brought in the last two directors. Sleeter came from Wisconsin in October 2016. He replaced Jennifer D. Hansen, who had been hired from Montana in February 2016 and resigned four months later.

This time, the county posted the director position only internally, opting to hire someone familiar with the county’s personnel as well as its systems. The county plans to do a national search for a deputy director, Bloomingdale said.

Allen worked as a 911 operator from 1996 to 2002, then as an executive secretary and office manager before becoming the emergency communications department’s office and accreditation manager in 2013. She served as interim deputy director from May 2016 until becoming permanent in that position in 2017.

Allen inherits a new 911 call center as well as the challenges of dealing with emerging technology in public and emergency communications.

The Douglas County 911 User Group, made up of police, fire and all other public safety agencies in the county, recommended that the County Board hire Allen. Her salary will be $130,000 a year.

“She’s a great fit,” Bloomingdale said.

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