Phoenix Police taking longer to respond to 911 calls, despite adding officers

Posted at 6:53 PM, Jun 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-09 13:42:10-04

Phoenix police response times have gotten worse despite an effort to reassign officers to patrol units this year.

West Phoenix resident Annette Bearden remembers the last time she called 911 after she heard a neighbors' argument turn physical.

"You could hear the bumping on the walls," Bearden said. "Literally in five or 10 minutes, they [police] were there, which I was glad because I was kind of afraid for the lady."

Bearden figures an officer was close that day because slow response times have plagued Phoenix police.

The new police chief, Jeri Williams, took action to try to improve times. She reassigned more than 150 people, placing them in patrol jobs in February.

Since the shift four months ago, the median response time for the most serious, priority 1 calls got worse by one second.

The median response time since February has been six minutes and 27 seconds, according to data obtained by ABC15 through a public records request.

Priority 2 call response times also increased by 28 seconds. Lower priority 3 calls, like a burglary, have improved response times, but citizens can still expect to wait for nearly 45 minutes.

"It's just as bad now as it was beforehand," Phoenix law Enforcement Association President Ken Crane said.

Crane and other officer union leaders say they need a bigger surge on the streets to make a real difference.

"The only way to fix it is more hiring, more bodies in the door," Crane said.

A Phoenix Police Department spokesman tells ABC15 there's not enough data yet to draw conclusions about these response times. He added big events like the Final Four basketball tournament could have had an impact.

Department leaders say they are confident the reorganization was necessary and in the best interest of the community, and they say it does take an adjustment period.

"You bring on officers that have been behind desks and doing detective work, so obviously it's going to be a little slower for them to pick it up and get into the swing of things," said Al DePascal, who heads the Maryvale Community Weed & Seed program.