ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – When someone calls 911 in a life-or-death situation, police cannot get there fast enough. Though for the past few years, the time it takes Albuquerque police to get to priority one calls has ticked up.
The department has released different sets of numbers on the city website and to city council, although both show the same trend.
According to a chart published on the ABQ Dashboard, in 2010, the average time it took from when an officer was dispatched on a priority one call to when that officer got there was 5:42. In 2014, that number jumped up to 6:45. On the other hand, the priority one response time reported in budget documents puts the FY 10 number at about 8:26, while the FY 14 number was estimated at 10:34.
Whether it’s a minute or two minutes, the slowing trend is the same.
“The Albuquerque Police Officer’s Association has been warning city leaders for six years that this was going to happen,” said Shaun Willoughby, APOA vice president.
Willoughby blames the change on a staffing crunch the city’s been working to fix.
Right now APD says there are 415 officers on patrol who are on the payroll. Willoughy said the reality is many of the officers included in that count are not actively taking calls because they’re on early retirement or injured.
“This is what happens when you task an individual to do more with less,” Willoughby said.
APD spokesperson Celina Espinoza says the department is working on beefing up staffing.
“We are tackling our staffing levels on multiple fronts including the way we recruit, our advertising efforts and creating a new recruiting council comprised of business and community leaders and those heavily involved in education,” Espinoza said in a statement.
Part of the increase in priority one response times may be due to an increased workload when it comes to those priority one calls. While overall dispatched calls are down, priority one calls are moving in the opposite direction.
In FY 2010, APD reported officers were dispatched on 53,685 priority one calls. In FY 2014, that number jumped up to 65,303.
Espinoza called response times to priority one calls a “top priority” for the department.
“We continue to analyze our current methods and systems, always seeking improvement,” Espinoza said. “Our commitment to serve our community is steadfast, as we seek to respond to the most dire situations as quickly as possible.”