Kansas City police chief requests 51 new dispatchers, patrol off - KCTV5

Kansas City police chief requests 51 new dispatchers, patrol officers in proposed budget

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During his first two months, Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith has noticed his department needs more people. (KCTV5) During his first two months, Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith has noticed his department needs more people. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

During his first two months, Kansas City Police Chief Rick Smith has noticed his department needs more people.

The Kansas City Police Department recently submitted their budget for the fiscal year 2018-2019.

In it, Smith asked for money to fund 51 new positions, 21 new dispatchers and 30 new patrol officers.

“We realize this is a request for additional tax dollars and there are many other needs in the city,” Smith said in his most recent blog post. But with our current staffing, we are unable to provide the kind of service taxpayers expect.”

In his blog post, Smith expounded on the needs for both positions.

Smith says, in the last two years, patrol officer numbers have decreased to stay within budget.

He added that due to the decrease, response times have increased, peaking at a citywide average of nine minutes and 20 seconds for Priority 1 calls in Nov. 2016.

“We’ve been working to bring them down since then,” Smith said. “With some Academy classes coming through, we’re back to an average of about eight minutes citywide, but some areas, like North Patrol Division, still experience an average of nine and a half minutes for a response in an emergency.”

Smith added that many in the city have to wait hours for lower priority calls such as home burglaries and non-injury accidents. He says the response times are not acceptable.

In the post, Smith says the 30 additional patrol officer positions are the minimum needed to improve response times. He says, more than 30 officers would be beneficial but says the department is cognizant of the other budgetary needs of the city and therefore limited their request in the proposed budget.

“Patrol officers are the backbone of this department, and in my view, everything else KCPD does is to support the patrol function,” Smith said.

Smith says the new patrol officers would not come on until the middle of the year after other academy classes had graduated and would cost $720,000 in 2018-2019.

The chief says due to under-staffing in the communications unit, many people are put on hold when they call 911. He also says the average 911 hold time increased from 26 seconds in August to 30 seconds in September.

Every month, KCTV5 News’ investigative unit does an open records request to check data. On Sept. 12, the average hold time was 57 seconds, and someone on Sept. 4 waited 22 minutes and 21 seconds.

“This is unacceptable to both the Kansas City Missouri Police Department and the community we serve,” Smith said. “When you call 911 in a crisis, you should get an immediate response.”

Smith says the department is hiring and processing as many people as they can, in an effort to get their numbers back to where they should be.

He says, according to a recent staffing study and information from national public safety telecommunication organizations, the current budgeted positions are not enough.

According to the blog, the new dispatcher positions would cost nearly $1.1 million in 2018-2019.

“While these additional dispatcher positions would bring us more in line with comparable cities, we would still remain on the high side of number of calls per dispatcher, compared to those cities and national standards,” Smith said.

“I believe these additional positions would be a very wise investment. These requests have been echoed by the community,” Smith said.

Smith says the proposed budget contains requests to fund everything from fuel to employee health insurance.

To read more of Smith’s blog, click here.

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