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Milwaukee Police Answer Questions about Response Times to 911 Calls

MPD commanders faced tough questions about response times on Thursday.

Some members of the Common Council said residents are waiting far too long and they suspect not enough officers are being assigned to the sections of the city that need them.

One of the biggest questions from aldermen today was 'When a constituent calls in about a crime - like prostitution or loud music - are officers responding quickly enough to even make a difference'?

Alderman Bob Donovan, the public safety committee chair, said his constituents are sick of reporting crime like prostitution or loud music and getting little sense of urgency from Milwaukee Police.

The response from Inspector Terrance Gordon was that 911 calls are sorted by priority.

"That one call is being received in the context of several dozen calls at any given time. So they have to triage the calls based on the behavior that's being reported to them,” Gordon said.

Last year according to police statistics dispatchers received 1,033,945 calls.

Of the calls, 65,000 were priority one situations.

Priority one means life-threatening or crimes of a serious nature.

The median response time for priority 1 calls was 7 minutes and 29 seconds with times going up for priority 2 and lower.

Alderman Mark Borkowski questioned those provided-statistics in the first place.

He said some constituents have taken to embellishing danger in 911 calls.

"Desperate people who are tired of waiting or whatever will do what they have to do," Borkowski said.

Increasing the number of police is an option,  but MPD said it might not be a full solution especially if a lot of calls happen in one part of the city.

But that said, police admit that dispatchers have to prioritize calls to make sure the most pressing situations are addressed first.

Alderman wanted to know if more resources would make a difference.

Currently there are 31 dispatcher open positions.

A representative for Milwaukee Police said more officers on the ground won't fix every situations. especially if there are a lot of 911 calls in one specific area of the city.

"It could be the same call volume for the city but one district just happens to be slower at a given time. -Right, but we're saying we have an expectation. –Absolutely,” said Alderman Bob Donvan.

Another complaint from alderman in prioritizing calls Milwaukee Police no longer immediately respond to automatic burglar alarms or to calls about loud music.

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