Long wait times for 911 responses in Dallas are being blamed on a staffing shortage and Mayor Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) wants the problem fixed right away.
Johnson has now publicly asked City Manager T.C. Broadnax to problem solve and figure out how to bring staffing at Dallas Police Department’s 911 call center up to par.
“We are counting on our city manager to correct these issues immediately,” Johnson wrote in a June 21 post on Twitter. “Our residents expect and deserve to have their emergency calls answered in a timely manner.”
According to WFAA, the city has 110 authorized positions for call takers at the 911 center, but their staff currently only sits at 84 with some of those employees still being trained on how to do the job.
“We’re probably not paying appropriately,” Cara Mendelsohn, councilwoman for the city’s 12th District, told WFAA. “We’re not paying enough and the Dallas Police Department does recognize that.”
In a statement to WFAA, Broadnax said he shared other city officials’ “deep concern” about the lack of employees answering 911 calls.
“The Dallas Police Department has implemented a number of changes and improvements to recruit and onboard additional staff as quickly as possible,” Broadnax said in his statement to WFAA. “I’ve also asked Chief Garcia to take immediate measures to assign additional personnel to the call center to improve service levels as new personnel are onboard.”
A city memo suggested employees from other departments, including those on light duty, would help meet the demand by temporarily working at the 911 center. WFAA reported the city has offered a $3,000 signing bonus in an effort to draw in more qualified applicants and also approved overtime for current employees.
According to WFAA, the staff shortage delayed the emergency response to the stabbing of a little girl earlier this month.
NBC DFW reported Dallas Police admitted it took almost 12 minutes for the 911 call related to the crime to be answered.