DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Dallas Councilman Scott Griggs is raising new questions about Dallas Police Department response times. His concerns come as city and DPD leaders have said that the department meets national standards of responding to a priority one call, the most serious within eight minutes.
Griggs said the standard is for a priority one call to be dispatched within two minutes and for an officer to respond within six minutes. But he said at least two recent cases highlight a far different reality.
After a recent armed robbery, a victim told CBS 11 News he and others called 911 eight times before a Dallas Police officer responded. Last month, Dallas Police Officer Nick Novello told city council members about a priority one call that took more than two hours for the department to respond.
Griggs said he started asking DPD questions. “It was a huge concern. How is that happening I thought?”
Griggs even posted a DPD call log from the incident Novello discussed to his Facebook page.
It showed the call came in at 9:21pm and was incorrectly considered a priority two instead of priority one. At 9:40 and 9:59 p.m., the 911 caller called back. But it wasn’t until 10:43 p.m. — an hour and 20 minutes after the original call — that DPD upgraded the call to priority one.
Griggs said according to the log, it wasn’t until 34 minutes after that, at 11:17 p.m., that an officer was assigned the call. The councilman disputed a city memo to council that said DPD dispatched the call in 34 minutes.
Griggs said it actually took one hour and 56 minutes to dispatch the call. “Whenever DPD changes the priority of a call, for example upgrading from a priority two to a priority one call, we restart the clock on our response time.
He said he asked DPD why it’s done that way. “I don’t have a good answer because we keep the original time that’s in dispatch. So to me, it’s unacceptable to restart the clock.”
In a statement, Dallas PD said in part, “If another call is received regarding the same incident but additional information is given that changes the nature of the call, the call is re-prioritized. But just because a call is re-prioritized and the clock starts over, that does not add anymore response time or push it farther down in the queue. In fact, it should decrease the amount of time it takes to respond. We are trying to capture the most accurate data regarding that upgraded priority so it’s not as much about the clock being re-set as it is about the re-prioritization of the call based on the new information.”
It turns out after officers responded to the call in the above log, the city said there wasn’t an incident.
Griggs said, “If calls like this are taking an hour, 56 minutes let’s tell the public that. The public is very supportive of public safety and our police officers just as I am.”
He has asked the city how often calls have been reprioritized and the response time clock is re-set.
Sgt. Mike Mata, President of the Dallas Police Association, said there are priority one calls not responded to within that time. “I work almost every night in patrol and there’s calls holding about every night, multiple calls holding. Priority ones, twos, threes, way past the time allotted by the national average, so we just need to be honest with the public so we can tackle this problem.”
DPD has about 3,000 officers and both Mata and Griggs say the city needs to hire many more officers.