Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

10 New Positions Approved at APD’s Emergency Communications Center — City of Albuquerque

Fri. Sept 19, 2022

ALBUQUERQUE – The Albuquerque Police Department today announced 10 new positions for 911 Operators at the Emergency Communications Center. APD leadership also discussed challenges regarding staffing and wait times which is an issue plaguing the country.

Staffing:

The Emergency Communications Center is authorized for 75,911 operators and has 74 positions filled with one vacancy. There are 42 authorized dispatcher positions, 30 of which are filled, with 12 vacancies.

Since COVID first hit in 2020, 911 operation centers nationwide have seen challenges with staffing. Due to these challenges, APD has made significant changes and enhanced incentives to make employment at the ECC more appealing. Pay increases went into effect bringing Telecommunicators 1, from $21.28 an hour to $24.31 and Telecommunicator 2, from $22.23 an hour to $26.63 an hour.

Trainings have also been restructured shortening new hire trainings without any sacrifice to service. Incentives for referrals have been put in place, signing bonuses implemented and we have also established an agreement with CNM for the Telecommunicator Academy.

Wait Times:

In early 2022, APD employed an outside vendor to evaluate staffing and process at the ECC. From that audit, which can be found here, 40 percent of calls that come into 242-COPS were found to be not police related.

The National Standard for 911 is to answer 90 percent of calls within 15 seconds, and 95 percent answered within 20 seconds. Approximately 80% of our calls are answered within this time frame. There is not a National Standard for a non-emergency line such as 242-COPS.

APD is striving for no more than 180 seconds, or three minutes to answer the non-emergency line. We are at 75%- 80% percent presently and in the past had hit as low as 30%. The time calls are answered is directly impacted by three things, staffing, number of calls, and complexity of calls.

With regards to 911 calls, APD has recently experienced issues when there is a critical incident and dozens of people are calling 911 all at once for the same incident which ties up the lines. There have also been ongoing issues with people calling the emergency line for non-emergency issues, for instance calling to check the time of day or date.

“As APD recognizes not all calls are answered to the level expected, the department is working diligently to meet the public’s expectations,” said Chief Harold Medina. “My hope is with 10 newly funded positions at our Emergency Communications Center, this will better assist in answering calls as quickly as possible.”

Measures Taken:

With the challenges APD has faced at the ECC in terms of staffing and waiting times, many changes have been implemented to help improve both areas of concern.

– 242-COPS is now in a screened queue requested from phone vendor. Initial testing completed and set up functional.

– Employees have been hired to screen inbound 242 calls so they can be sent to the necessary service ie. 311, 242 queue, 911, etc.

– Establishing phone tree for 242-COPS with the new phone system.

– Technology Spidr Tech implemented to measure community member satisfaction.

– When callers are surveyed from Spidr Tech about their satisfaction with their experience, we’ve received (4/5)

– Automated call backs to text messages to advise of delays.

– Implemented single queue trial as recommended in IXP audit. Call hold times actually increased. Tried a second trial with same results.

– Piloted an appointment-based system for calls. Only one person preferred this as all others preferred online reporting.

– New CAD system anticipated to go live in November.

– Amended hiring requirements to comport with local hiring and changes in state law with respect to cannabis.

– Recruiting helped fund new ads for television and billboards.

– Implementing social media to assist in recruiting.

As a way to better inform the public on when to call 242-COPS versus 911, two TikTok videos were posted to the department’s TikTok account, and can be found here: 242-COPS, 911.

Misconceptions about Calling 242-COPS and 911:

APD sometimes receives complaints from the public that they called 911 and the phone just rang over and over again. Once the call is routed through your cellular provider and the state 911 switch, it goes into a queue and is either answered or you will hear a recording. If a caller still hears ringing, that call has not been delivered to 911.

It is not possible with the current system to get a busy signal so if a caller hears that, it is likely a carrier issue.

Callers will also state they tried called 242-COPS or 911 multiple times with no answer. Like most other systems, if a caller hangs up and calls back, you go to the end of the queue.

Anyone interested in working at the Emergency Communications Center can find more information about current openings here.

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