The Lead

As 911 wait times rise, Philly cops urge patience

By: - February 17, 2022 1:52 pm

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw (Philadelphia Tribune photo)

By Brian Saunders

PHILADELPHIA —  As 911 wait times rise, the city’s police department is training more dispatchers, officials said Wednesday.

“Please know we’ve added 15 new dispatchers since December to police radio which is helping with the 911 call taking,” Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said during a briefing. “Another class is expected to begin this week with approximately 25 dispatchers ready to be trained.”

Earlier this week, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that response times for 911 calls had increased to nearly 22 minutes since last November.
Outlaw told journalists that there continues to be a staff shortage, however. She said that while the department will continue to train officers to supplement the issue, the reality remains that the police department is down 600 staffers from its 2015 staffing levels. Outlaw also said salaries were something that had to be addressed.

“We also recognize that we needed to look at pay, which is something that you know has been addressed, as well,” Outlaw said.

“However, the crux of it is that with increased calls for service, if we expect the same level of service or output given that we have fewer people or more work, you know, we’re going to see some disparities there. So we have to prioritize the calls and how we dispatch,” she continued.

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Outlaw reiterated that people should not hang up because their calls and concerns will be addressed.

In the meantime, Deputy Commissioner Christine Coulter said officers are being trained on dispatch if they have to assume that role.

“Our plan is to continue to train the officers with the hopes of not needing them to make sure that they are ready to go and step in an emergency,” Coulter said.

And as Philadelphia continues to deal with a rash of carjackings, Deputy Commissioner Ben Naish announced multiple arrests Wednesday.

A pair of teenagers aged 14 and 15 were arrested for a stolen Toyota Camry. The teens held victims at gunpoint before fleeing in the vehicle. The car was found, and PPD arrested both individuals after a foot pursuit recovering a black nine-millimeter handgun loaded with 15 live rounds.

Another carjacking incident took place on Glenwood Street.

“The incident occurred on January 23rd around 9:30 in the morning,” Naish said. “The vehicle that was taken was a 2016 Mercedes, and on February 8th, the complainant was notified by a friend that his car was in the area of 4200 Torresdale Ave.”

Naish said a nine-millimeter Smith and Wesson handgun and eight live rounds were recovered from the vehicle. Also recovered were cards that belonged to a victim who had his Audi carjacked the day before. The offender is 32-years old.

An 18-year-old male was arrested and charged with aggravated

assault, robbery, carjacking, violation of uniform firearms act(VUFA), and related offenses for a gunpoint robbery on Feb. 10th in the 7700 block of Bradford Avenue.

“Officers observed the vehicle in the 5900 block of Elmhurst,” Naish said. “The offender fled the vehicle. Officers apprehended him after a short foot pursuit. The complainant positively identified the suspect to the property just 20 minutes earlier.”

Jamie Maneely, 21, and Cameron Styles, 20, were arrested for multiple carjackings in the city. The two men were involved in a car accident on Evans Street in a stolen Toyota Highlander, which subsequently connected them to other carjackings. Maneely was also arrested for a robbery at a Lukoil gas station. During his arrest, Naish said a nine-millimeter ghost gun was recovered from Maneely.

“Those males, we continue to investigate them for crimes in other parts of the city,” Naish said.

In other news, MayorJim Kenney briefly spoke on the Pennsylvania courts shutting down a proposal requiring gun owners to report to police when a firearm has been lost and stolen.

“We will continue to fight for the right to enact and enforce stronger gun laws to protect our people and save lives,” Kenney said.

Brian Saunders is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared

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