Correction issued below:
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – You hear stories from people in Albuquerque saying they tried to call 242-COPS or 911 and it just keeps ringing. Friday, the Albuquerque Police Department (APD) announced they’re adding ten more positions at the emergency communications center to keep up with all the calls coming in.
Chief Harold Medina and other officials addressed growing concerns about long 911 call wait times and said they know they have to improve on how long people are waiting on the phone. “We intend to use salary savings and create ten additional spots and use that as a starting point on how many more individuals we truly need to ensure that we get to calls faster…Sometimes there’s been outliers where people are put on hold 40 minutes and we need to correct that,” Medina said.
Chief Medina said they are looking to beef up the 242-COPS call center and that there aren’t enough staff positions. APD says they get 1.1 million calls to 911 and 242-COPS a year. Deputy Chief J.J. Griego says the national standard is to take 90% of 9-1-1 calls within 15 seconds and 95% of calls within 20 seconds. Griego says APD only answers 80% of calls within that time: “It’s about 16 seconds for 911 and a minute and 42 for 242 COPS. There are times when it is much longer and we would like to get rid of that.”
APD believes these ten additional positions will help cut down those wait times. They also stressed that people should only call 911 for emergencies to keep the lines from getting jammed. APD says by the end of this year, they’ll have had their best year of hiring operators since 2007.
APD says they still have 12 dispatcher positions vacant and have been trying to recruit people with pay raises and other incentives.
Correction: In a previous version of the post we reported “Griego says the national standard is to take 90% of 9-1-1 calls within 15 seconds and 95% of calls within 20 seconds. Griego says APD only answers 8% of calls within that time. That is incorrect. APD answers 80% of the calls within that time.