SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – Sacramento Police Department is under fire from the state over its 911 response times.
California law requires police to answer 911 calls within 15 seconds, but the office of emergency services says the Sacramento Police Department is not meeting that standard.
“It’s a standard that we strive to meet, and sometimes that’s a challenge, especially with our staffing,” said Officer Eddie Macaulay with Sacramento Police Department.
He says the department needs more dispatchers to answer the calls, yet it’s having trouble finding them. However, if the department doesn’t do find dispatchers quickly, the city could face legal action from the state.
In the last 10 years, the number of Sac PD dispatchers has gone down from 108 to 70.
But at the same time, the number of 911 calls has gone up by 16 percent.
“The biggest challenge is finding those people that want to dedicate themselves to public service,” Macaulay said. “It’s not just about wearing a uniform and going and knocking on people’s doors. It’s those people that are willing to commit themselves to the safety of the people of Sacramento.”
The department even created youtube videos called “The 411 on 911” to give the public a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to do the job.
But despite Sac PD’s efforts, the department is still in hot water with the Office of Emergency Services (CalOES).
In this letter to Sacramento City Manager Howard Chan, CalOES says Sac PD is only answering “82 percent of calls at the 15-second standard.” OES blames the delay on the fact that the department does not directly accept 911 calls from cell phones. Before it ended, the letter also said that “failure to comply” with requirements means the State Attorney General’s Office could step in.
Macaulay explained the solution on the table: to reallocate money for eight vacant officer positions and hire 10 dispatchers instead. That way, SAC PD says it would have the staffing to answer both landline calls and cell phone calls and answer them within those 15 seconds.
“If you’re in the city of Sacramento and you call 911, we want to be the ones you call, not CHP,” Macaulay said.
The city council will vote on the issue at tomorrow’s council meeting. If the council doesn’t resolve the issue, the city could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in state emergency funding.