Police Response Times for Highest Priority Calls Tick Up

Dallas Police on a scene
Dallas Police on a scene | Image by WFAA

The Dallas Police Department’s ongoing staffing shortage remains an impediment to reasonable police response times, with the latest data from January showing that officers are still averaging well above department goals.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, DPD has struggled to maintain adequate staffing levels among steady retirements and insufficient recruiting and retention.

“The reality of it is … I can have a class of 50 people that start Academy today, but we’re not going to recognize their efficiency and their effectiveness for a year and a half after the Academy and training and everything else. So equally as important, if not more so, is the retention of men and women,” DPD Chief Eddie Garcia explained in a previous interview with DX.

Calls to DPD are assigned a priority designation (1-4) based on the nature of the call, with P1 calls making up serious emergencies, like an active shooter or a home burglary in progress. P4 calls occupy the other end of the spectrum, signaling “non-critical” incidents.

Last month, Dallas police officers took 10 minutes on average to respond to P1 calls, registering a relatively significant spike compared to the 9.2 minutes clocked for such calls in January 2022. P1 calls were the worst in southwestern Dallas, where officers took, on average, 12.1 minutes to respond.

For P2 calls, there was not much difference year over year as far as January goes. The response time average in January 2023 was 73.6 minutes where as it was 73.4 minutes last January. Calls took the longest in eastern Dallas last month, taking about 115 minutes for an officer to respond.

City officials budgeted only $654 million for the department this year, far less than other high-crime jurisdictions like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Response times fell dramatically, however, for P3 and P4 calls, dropping by hundreds of minutes. P3 calls took 393.5 minutes on average last January, and P4 calls logged an average response time of 434.8 minutes. In January 2023, P3 calls took 186.7 minutes before a response, and P4 calls took 187.2 minutes.

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, DPD launched a mandatory online reporting system last October for so-called “non-emergency” incidents, such as shoplifting, car burglaries, interference with child custody, identity theft, and certain car accidents, among others.

“Our goal with this mandatory reporting is to cut down our response times, free up more officers, and respond quicker to those who need our help in an emergency. We know it will help,” Garcia said in July of 2023 when he was trying to sell the program to the public.

It is unclear as of press time what, if any, impact the deployment of the new online reporting system had on P3 and P4 response times.

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