As reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Police lagging in emergency response timea
Priority calls: Officers in cities of similar size arrive on scene quicker. Officials here defend numbers but agree there is room for improvement.
By Tim Eberly
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Sunday, March 22, 2009
Atlanta police were the slowest to answer high-priority emergency calls among police departments from seven similar-sized cities, according to a survey of police response times.
Last year it took, on average, 11 minutes and 12 seconds from the time a high-priority 911 call was made until an Atlanta police officer showed up at the scene.
But response times reported by the El Paso (Texas) Police Department were only one second quicker than Atlanta’s, with an average of 11 minutes and 11 seconds. And the Denver Police Department posted an average of 11 minutes flat.
Other departments responded to the calls more quickly.
Police in Tucson, Ariz., responded, on average, in 10 minutes and 11 seconds. Police in Kansas City, Mo., and Oklahoma City posted average response times of less than 10 minutes. And in Nashville-Davidson County, police recorded average response times below 9 minutes.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution compared police departments responsible for similar-sized populations in comparable-sized areas; those that have similar-sized police departments; those with similar definitions for high-priority calls; and those tracking response times in the same fashion. Information from several cities, including Atlanta, was collected through requests under open records laws.
Seven other cities contacted as part of the survey report response times in different ways, preventing a valid comparison.
Atlanta police Deputy Chief Pete Andresen defended the city’s response time, but he also acknowledged that the department is trying to speed up its arrival to high-priority emergency calls.
“Obviously, we want [the times] to go down,” Andresen said.
Asked whether he was happy with Atlanta’s response time, Miles Butler, director of the city’s 911 call center, initially said: “No.” Later, in the same telephone interview, he said he wasn’t unhappy but sees an “opportunity” for improvement.
Butler’s staffers at the 911 call center take and dispatch calls. Andresen’s patrol officers respond to them. Each points toward the other’s department when discussing how to speed up police response times.
Butler said that in order to dispatch calls, “you’ve got to have officers available.”
Andresen cited several factors that slow officers down, such as traffic congestion and communication between officers and police dispatchers. Asked to elaborate, he said he was referring to “getting proper information” from dispatchers to officers.
Peter Fenton, a criminal justice professor at Kennesaw State University, said it’s difficult to compare police departments’ response times because of factors such as road conditions or traffic congestion. But he said the response time posted by Atlanta police is one of “those things that make you go, ‘Hmm. Why is it Atlanta is slower than all the other cities?’ I think it certainly deserves a closer look.”
Another criminal justice professor, Robbie Friedmann of Georgia State University, said Atlanta’s response time is “not unreasonable” when compared with the other cities. He added that it takes longer than the public likely thinks to respond to 911 calls.
“I doubt that the public knows,” he said. “The way you will know is if you unfortunately experience that kind of service and you find out.”
While Andresen said he wanted “continued improvement” in response times, he also defended the department’s average response time, saying that the statistics have been “fairly consistent” over the years, while congestion in the city has worsened.
“There are a number of factors that have brought more people into the city, whether it’s for work or play,” Andresen said. “I don’t have that bad of an issue with the response time we’ve got now.”
Both Andresen and Butler say they’re trying to speed up response.
Butler said he’s working with his 911 operators and dispatchers to improve their questioning techniques and to prioritize and correctly classify calls.
To simplify communication, Andresen said officers are now talking to dispatchers in “plain talk,” rather than using police codes and signals. He also said the department hopes to shrink the police “beats” that officers are assigned to patrol, thereby reducing the area they would have to cover while responding to calls.
THROUGH THE YEARS
Average response times for high-priority calls by Atlanta police officers
Source: Atlanta Police Department
City....Square....Population....Sworn….Officers….A verage.…miles....officer....on patrol....time*
Nashville - Davidson Co. ….533 ….619,626 ….1,268……..698……..8:54
Oklahoma City ….657 ….547,274 ….1,035……..490……..9:12
Kansas City, Mo…319 ….450,375 ….1,420……1,059……..9:52
Tucson, Ariz. ….226 ….525,529 ….1,058……..561 ……10:11
Denver…………154.9 ..588,349 ….1,507……..936 ……11:00
El Paso, Texas….251 ….606,913 ….1,154……..658 ……11:11
Atlanta ……….132 ….519,145 ….1,609……..826 ……11:12
*For high-priority calls in 2008
Sources: Various police departments, U.S. Census Bureau
THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s review of police response times began after the Atlanta police conducted a review in 2008. The APD’s review compared Atlanta’s average response times to high-priority calls in 2007 with average times from 14 other cities. It found Atlanta’s response was the slowest. But police determined the data might be flawed, so the AJC conducted its own survey. The AJC collected information from 13 cities and determined that seven collected or reported data in a way that could be compared appropriately with Atlanta’s response times. The cities included in the AJC survey all record response times beginning with the initial call to 911 and conclude when an officer arrives at the location of the call. Other cities start their clock at other points.
The article can be found at; Police lagging in emergency response time | ajc.com
Comment: The quickest response time average is 8:54.
The time that an average series of television commercials comes on is roughly 2 minutes.
Imagine how long it would seem and serious it would be to be on your own good luck survive or die for four times the length of a TV commercial break while fighting for your life against Deebo.
Similar same applies toward fire and ambulance response times as well so good luck escaping your towering inferno with no fire blanket or in house fire extinguishers at hand to support as much. Smoke inhalation and burnt flesh FTL.