Police say average 911 response times declining
The Portland Police Bureau announced Sunday, Jan. 24, that it is making progress reducing 911 response time following a spike in delays during months of large summer protests that frequently turned violent.
"While high-priority calls for service took longer to respond to during the summer months, progress has been made in decreasing response time, and other steps are being taken to further address the issue," the bureau said in a Jan. 23 news release.
According to the bureau, the monthly average time to respond to a high-priority call for service increased from June and peaked in August, but has been reduced each month since. The bureau reports that average response times have declined from 16.4 minutes in August to 10.4 minutues in December 2020.
The bureau also said officers from other units back will be reassigned to patrol duties Feb. 4 to increase resources to decrease overtime expenditures and assist with calls for service response. This is the soonest these officers can be reassigned under the Portland Police Association contract.
"Responding when our community calls for help is our core function, and it's disheartening when we don't meet expectations," said Deputy Chief Chris Davis. "I'm encouraged that we're seeing improved call response despite unprecedented budget and staffing challenges. That's a testament to the dedication of our patrol officers. We will do everything we can, within the limited resources we have, to meet our community's public safety needs."
Many officers were pulled off patrol duties over the summer to cover nightly protests that frequently turned violent in downtown and other parts of Portland. That reduced the officers availabe to respond to 911 calls. The number and size of such protests have declined in recent weeks.
According to the bureau, a number of factors drive response times, including, but not limited to: what other calls are happening in the precinct or citywide that are requiring resources; how many officers are available in a geographic region, what the type of call is and its corresponding priority level; how many resources are needed to address the type of call in as safe a manner as possible; the time of day and day of the week; and traffic conditions affecting officer drive time.
In addition, the bureau said, some calls for service are determined to be informational in nature or not criminal matters. Patrol supervisors are trained to balance the call load with available resources and in certain cases can cancel the call. There is a procedure for this, and supervisors are tasked with balancing public expectations, bureau resources, the bureau's mission, values, and goals, and dedication to community policing.
A decision to cancel police response carries with it the obligation to attempt to contact those requesting police services and inform them why there will be no response.
A bureau interactive dashboard with additional information about response times can be found here.
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