Colorado Springs Police Chief Pete Carey told the City Council on Monday that the 911 call center has had as many as 5,000 abandoned calls in one month and that it can take up to 30 minutes for police to respond to non-emergencies.
Carey said that under the proposed 2014 budget, the police department seeks to expand its workforce to meet demands and dramatically decrease response times. Adding six call-takers to the 911 center in the next year, for example, would make it possible for a higher percentage of emergency calls to be answered, Carey argued.
A call is considered abandoned when the caller hangs up before a 911 call-takers answers. Carey did not specify when the high volume of abandoned calls occurred or whether they happened in an emergency or disaster situation, such as during the Waldo Canyon Fire.
Also under the proposed budget, Colorado Springs police would employ more officers, its Community Service Officer force could double and the academy's class could host up to 48 graduates.
The change: 2013 budget, $95.4 million; 2014 budget, $99.9 million
What it means: Gaining up to 27 more police officers, significantly reducing response times, particularly for high-priority calls. The positions would be funded both through the general fund and Public Safety Sales Tax. Adding eight full-time and 28 part-time Community Service Officers will help sworn police officers with traffic operations, code enforcement and crime reporting.
Who cares/who is affected: Carey said additions to the police force will improve emergency response times, which he wants to get down to 8 minutes, an industry standard. He added that he also wants to ensure at least 90 percent of 911 calls are answered, with enough officers to dispatch.
Sticking points: The City Council did not call into question the validity of expanding the police department and 911 call center, but did say the line items and expenses needed to be more detailed and specific. Several councilors said they could not justify such a large budget to their constituents without knowing exactly how the funds would be utilized.