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Police response times slow: how to address the issue?

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Police response times slow: how to address the issue?
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When you call the police for an emergency, you expect them to be at your location in minutes. But their definition of emergency and yours might be different. And, police response times are on the rise. Our Katie Gibas spoke with Police Chief Frank Fowler and city councilors about ways to address the issue.


SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- "There was a break in up the street from me where a guy had to wait for four hours to get a police officer. And I've heard it from the time I've been on the council. And there seems to be a disconnect between the 911 center and the police department," said Pat Hogan, Syracuse Common Council.

Having to wait hours for an officer to arrive on scene wasn't just an issue for Councilor Pat Hogan's neighbor; Hogan says he often gets calls about the problem. While the total number of calls has stayed relatively the same over the last four years, the response times have gotten slower.

"Jeff Piedmonte, who's the head of the union, said there were only 29 officers on a shift the other night. We should have at least 40 officers on a shift," said Hogan.

Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler said, "We're constantly changing our strategies and looking at data and moreover, talking to our citizens. We're constantly doing that and that assists us in how to properly deploy our personnel.

When the 911 Center receives a call, it can be one of three priorities, priority one is the most urgent.

For Priority 1 Calls, over the last three years, response times have stayed relatively the same, between 2.6 minutes and 2.8 minutes from the time the call came in to when officers were dispatched.

For Priority 2 Calls, the average increased more than 5 and a half minutes from 2011 to 2013. The average time from call to dispatch for Priority 2 Calls is 28 minutes.

For Priority 3 Calls, the response time jumped nearly six minutes between last year and this year. The average response time now is 38.8 minutes.

Even though the total number of officers has dropped in recent years, Pat Hogan says he believes it's more of an issue of where resources are allocated, as opposed to not enough resources.

"I believe in neighborhood oriented policing. That would be the top priority. Get the police out of their cars, walking the beats, getting to know the people in the neighborhoods. And aggressively address quality of life issues in those neighborhoods," said Hogan.

Fowler said, "We have to continue to analyze the problems that are before us and look at the personnel we do have and make sure we're deploying them in an efficient manner to make sure we continue to provide the quality of service that our citizens deserve. And that's exactly what we're doing on a daily basis.

Councilor Bob Doughtery says there needs to be more emphasis on preventing crime, like more active neighborhood watch groups.

Syracuse Common Council Public Safety Committee Chairperson, Jake Barrett says people need to be more proactive about protecting themselves and their belongings.

The mayor did not want to comment for our story.

If you'd like to check out the response times for yourself, check out the charts below.

Police Response Time

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