Kansas City police respond to growing 911 response times - KCTV5

Kansas City police respond to growing 911 response times

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Data shows about half of the calls will be classified as non-emergency. Those include calls about missing pets, trash collection, kids missing curfew or refusing to eat cereal in the morning. (KCTV5) Data shows about half of the calls will be classified as non-emergency. Those include calls about missing pets, trash collection, kids missing curfew or refusing to eat cereal in the morning. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

If a tragedy like Orlando, Dallas, or Baton Rouge happened in Kansas City, the average person dialing 911 will wait 16 seconds for someone to take their call.

That’s up from 14 seconds last year.

On June 12, 2016, Tony Shaw called 911 for his wife during an emergency. Shaw’s wife, April, suffered from respiratory problems, congestive heart failure and diabetes.

When he called, he was put in queue. He panicked and hung and called again.

“It seemed like it took forever for somebody to even say hello,” Tony Shaw said. “By the time they got her, it was really too late. I could see it in her face.”

April Shaw had a heart attack that day. By the time they reached the hospital, Tony said his wife was brain dead.

"There was nothing I can do to help her,” he said. “There was nothing I can do to help her. That's the part that sticks in my craw. There's nothing I can do to help her and there's nobody coming." 

Records from that day show people sat on hold for an average of 22 seconds.

One person calling for help waited seven minutes and 49 seconds. On June 11th, a caller in an emergency waited more than 17 minutes for help.

Police Department Responds

Kansas City Police Department captain Christopher Sicoli runs the dispatch and call center for the department. He said the response times are dependent on the call load.

“It is a reality based on the call load,” Sicoli said.

Sicoli pointed to a shooting last summer in the Northland when a 14-year-old girl and her mother were shot. He said during that window of time, more than 300 calls poured into 911. Just six individuals were taking calls.

“At any minute in that unit, I’ll see 30 calls holding and we’re getting more and more,” Sicoli said.

Data shows about half of the calls will be classified as non-emergency. Those include calls about missing pets, trash collection, kids missing curfew or refusing to eat cereal in the morning.

The calls pick-up around the holidays, including Thanksgiving.

“Their turkey didn’t come out right or it’s the first time they’ve tried to do a turkey and again, 911 is the number they know.”

Those calls are transferred to the Butterball Hotline.

How Kansas City compares to other departments

While Kansas City ranks in the middle for volume of 911 calls compared to similar departments, its staffing number is the lowest.

Data the KCPD presented the City Council in Kansas City:

There are positions for 79 call takers and dispatchers.

The National Emergency Number Association recommends a city the size of Kansas City to have 116 people on staff.

That’s unlikely to happen anytime soon, as the department just trimmed staff to balance the budget. Those positions trimmed included open call taker positions, leaving residents like Tony Shaw to cope with the consequences.

Longest hold times by month:

JANUARY - 7:16

FEBRUARY - 7:07

MARCH - 10:16

APRIL - 8:50

MAY - 15:5

JUNE - 17:12

The raw data for hold times in 2016 and 2015 can be found below:

Have you ever been on hold when you called 911? Call our tipline at 576-7555. In works in both the 816 and 913 area codes. You can also email us at angie.ricono@kctv5.com. 

Copyright 2016 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.

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