San Diego

City: November 911 Wait Time Exceeds National Standard

The percentage of calls into San Diego Police Department's emergency call center answered before 10 seconds has gradually improved since the mayor addressed 911 dispatch staffing shortages

Six months after pledging to improve a troubled 911 system, the City of San Diego announced Friday the average 911 call wait time in November exceeded the national standard.

In a report released Friday, the percentage of calls into San Diego Police Department's emergency call center answered before 10 seconds has gradually improved since April when just 67 percent of calls met that standard.

In the November report, 93.11 percent of calls were answered in 0 to 10 seconds, according to the city’s data. The national standard is when 90 percent of emergency calls are answered within 10 seconds.

The City of San Diego released this graphic showing the improved performance of the SDPD emergency dispatch center.

Earlier this year, NBC 7 learned a North County family waited 3 minutes and 10 seconds for a 911 dispatcher to receive its call after an was mauled by a pet.

In response to that story, NBC 7's users shared other experiences of long wait times for 911 response.

In May, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said an increased in call wait time was the result of budget cuts, staffing shortages and an increase of non-emergency calls received by an already busy 911 dispatch center.

The City of San Diego released this graphic showing the improved performance of the SDPD emergency dispatch center.

In 2008, SDPD's 911 line received 526,391 calls, according to a City of San Diego news release. In Fiscal Year 2015, the same call center received 626,694 calls.

In part, because city officials added 16 lines between 2014 and 2015 to decrease the number of busy signals received by those dialing 911. However, the additional lines did not help with the staffing shortages.

To help hire and retain employees, a dispatcher's base salary was incrased by 10-percent and a new compensation package was approved. Dispatchers will receive three 5-percent salary increases over 12 months. The SDPD will also operate year-round recruitment efforts to fill vacant positions.

There was also a plan to add personnel who will respond to those calls where the reporting party hung up before dispatchers could answer. According to the mayor's office, there will be 100 sworn officers and light-duty officers trained to assist at the call center when necessary.

Earlier this year, the City’s Performance and Analytics Team worked with SDPD officials to review workflows and possibly modernize procedures. As a result, the city said a pilot program will consider shifting schedules to improve coverage during the call center's busiest times.

“This is a positive step forward, but we know that we must maintain this standard to ensure that San Diego remains one of the nation’s safest big cities,” Mayor Faulconer said in the news release.

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