Call waiting: Manpower shortage, violent crime impacting response times?

Local News

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — On May 24, just before 6 p.m., Syracuse police called to the west side, 

A 13-year-old girl was stabbed, becoming the second teen homicide in less than a week. The crime drew a huge police response with 20 officers, as pressing emergencies and violent crime should.  But what happens to those less serious calls? Response time slips. 

“I found a number of calls, suspicious vehicles, harassment, loitering calls that waited for four, five, nine hours before police were able to respond,” said Joe Moran, president of the Syracuse Police PBA.

NewsChannel 9 took a closer look at the backlog in a 12-hour period that same day, leaving callers waiting for hours, or even the next day for an officer to arrive, with complaints getting stuck in the queue.

At 6:10 p.m. one night,  a suspicious vehicle complaint came in, and an officer didn’t respond until the next day at 3:32 a.m. A dispute was called in at 6:13 p.m. and got an 11:57 p.m. response.

A half hour later, at 6:44 pm, a domestic incident was called in with an officer getting to that scene at 11:33 p.m. Similarly, a loitering call came in at 7:34 p.m. was answered hours later, at 11:53 p.m. A harassment call then came in at 8:01, and was answered at 11:36 p.m.

And in the next hour, between 8 and 9 p.m., calls for a larceny,  and loud noise, answered the next day, 2:22 a.m. and 12:58 a.m.

“So as our members are being taken to these violent crimes to address, the rest of the community is affected because we don’t have enough cops to address these quality of life issues 8:33,” Moran said. 

A depleted force has police struggling to respond quickly to what many might consider less dire situations. 

“If you’re calling 911 clearly, your issue is important, to you and you want it addressed in a timely manner and we understand that, but we have been, our resources have been pulled to an extent where it’s nearly impossible to respond in an appropriate amount of time,” said Moran.

Syracuse police are constantly looking for new recruits, but find it difficult to hire enough to outpace the number of retirements. The PBA president continued the drumbeat for more officers, to better response times and help maintain trust in police.

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