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San Diego’s 911 Wait Times Continue To Drop

Photo credit: San Diego Police Department Recruiting Unit

A police dispatcher sits at his desk in this undated photo.

The average wait time for 911 calls in San Diego still falls short of the national standard despite decreasing significantly since April.

The amount of time San Diegans waited when calling 911 continued to fall in August and September, according to statistics released by the San Diego Police Department.

In August, the average wait time was about 6 seconds; in September it was about 5 seconds. That's down from 15 seconds in April, when the death of a baby whose parents called 911 put a spotlight on the issue. There were also about 3,500 more 911 calls in August and September than in April.

Despite the improvements, the city is still failing to meet the national standard for answering 911 calls, which says 90 percent should be answered within 10 seconds.

In August, 85 percent were answered within 10 seconds, and in September it was 88 percent.

"We are not only going to hit 90 (percent), we are going to keep it there for years to come," San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said.

He said he did not know when the city would hit 90 percent but is proud of the improvement from April, when only 67 percent of calls were answered within 10 seconds.

"We made a focused improvement, and that was absolutely necessary," Faulconer said.

The improvements include recruiting new dispatchers, retaining existing dispatchers through increased pay, asking police officers to fill in on shifts and getting new leadership for the dispatch center.

The new compensation package for dispatchers includes a 5 percent raise in July and four more over the next three years.

The former program manager resigned in May and was replaced with San Diego Police Capt. Jerry Hara.

The city has hired 35 new dispatchers so far this year, compared to 21 total in 2015, according to a mayoral spokeswoman. There are also 89 police officers trained to work in the dispatch center, and the city aims to train about a dozen more.

She said the dispatch center has seven vacancies and is always accepting applicants.

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Photo of Claire Trageser

Claire Trageser
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs a member of the KPBS investigative team, my job is to hold the powerful in San Diego County accountable. I've done in-depth investigations on political campaigns, police officer misconduct and neighborhood quality of life issues.

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