Total Police Response Time for Emergency and Urgent Calls
In the Austin Police Department (APD), calls for service are received and prioritized for dispatch to patrol officers. The highest priority calls are classified as either: an emergency (imminent threat to life or public safety) or urgent (not emergency, but still requires an urgent response). Using call priorities helps to ensure a rapid response to these critical call types and thus increasing the likelihood of a positive outcome.
Total response time is calculated from the time the call for service is answered by a call taker to the time the first police officer arrives on scene. While response time for emergency and urgent calls is reported as a single result, the result is based on a weighted average. This allows differences in volumes for the two call types to be normalized.
FY 2015-16 Results
In FY 2015-16, total response time was roughly 8 minutes and 4 seconds, 19 seconds longer than the established goal of 7 minutes 45 seconds.
Assessment of Results
Total police response time for emergency and urgent calls has remained consistent within the last two fiscal years. From FY 2014-15 to FY 2015-16 the number of emergency and urgent calls responded to both increased by 4%. The number of calls have steadily increased over the last five years. Emergency and urgent calls demand more resources, which mean other high priority calls have to wait for resources. A call cannot be dispatched if there are no officers available.
Response time consists of three components: process time, dispatch time, and dispatch-to-arrival time. Communications staff (call takers) influence process time. Dispatch time is affected both by Communications staff (dispatchers) and patrol officer availability. Patrol officers' travel time is the primary driver of dispatch-to-arrival time. Overall, in FY 2015-16, process time decreased 3% (2 seconds), dispatch time decreased 5% (3 seconds), and dispatch-to-arrival time increased 1% (4 seconds).
Increases in dispatch-to-arrival time could be attributed to increasing patrol vacancies. As vacancies increase, less officers are available to be dispatched to emergency and urgent calls. To offset patrol vacancies, in FY 2015-16, APD required 377 detectives and non-patrol officers to perform critical patrol functions for one week every four months.
In FY 2016-17, the department will add 21 civilian positions in order to reallocate 21 sworn employees currently performing civilian work to patrol activities. This will increase the availability of patrol officers and help improve response times.
Over the years, there has been a national decline in applications to law enforcement. As a result, APD has put an increased emphasis on recruiting – streamlining the process and increasing Academy class sizes. Current projections estimate 137 cadets will graduate from the Academy in FY 2016-17.
For more information contact Ken Murphy, Acting Communications Commander, at (512) 974-0947.