LA Times: Cellphones Swamping 911 System

In addition to ceaselessly complaining about how slow the LAPD can be to respond to calls, I also sometimes complain about how hard it is to get through to them to begin with. Turns out that mobile callers are partly, if not mostly, to blame. Times reporter Robert Lopez turned me on to an article in last Sunday’s edition by him and reporter Rich Connell revealing that changes in the way that emergency calls originating from mobile phones are handled have resulted in a bucketload of problems for the agencies responsible for handling calls:

But one major exception is the Los Angeles Police Department, which began taking wireless calls early last year. Twice as many wireless 911 calls as predicted have flooded in. Wait times and abandoned call rates are at their worst levels in years. A staffing shortage and the challenges of adapting to a new computer system haven’t helped.

The worst-case scenarios have become worse. In early 2006, the longest delay in any given month at the LAPD was under two minutes. By June and July of this year, these delays stretched more than 10 minutes.

I’m willing to bet one of the reasons that abandoned call rates have climbed so high, for the LAPD anyway, is that they repeat the ear-splitting screech for the TLD system about once a minute during your entire hold. Not a good way to keep your callers interested in holding, people. Lopez and Connell are continuing to chronicle problems with the 911 system, and if you’ve got a story to share there’s a form linked from the Times article. I know they’re particularly interested in people that have had problems with dispatchers being able to physically locate callers who are using mobiles.

5 Replies to “LA Times: Cellphones Swamping 911 System”

  1. No shit its slow. Driving home tonight from Burbank there was a fire on the north side of the 210 by the Arroyo with smoke across the freeway creating a hazard. (Note I did not take a pic going through it all). I called 911 as you could see flames as well…I drove the 10 miles to Monrovia before I even got to talk with the operator who transferred to me to Pasadena Fire. Not to efficient is an understatement.

  2. Amazing. Frazgo, I tried to report the same fire (on the corner of Holly and Orange Grove (Pasadena Historical Society/Avery Paper Co.) and my cellphone died waiting for 911 to pick up. Any news on the outcome of said blaze? I can still smell smoke up here in Altadena.

  3. I fully admit that I’m harping on this subject, but part of the reason 911 is swamped is because of people like you, 5000, who call when there isn’t an emergency. Quality-of-life calls are not emergencies. Please don’t call 911 unless you or somebody else is in physical danger.

  4. Harp all you want, Daniel, but leave me out of it. I made it pretty clear in my posts and comments that I almost always call 888-ASK-LAPD or my SLO directly. In fact, I’ve only called 911 from my home twice, in three years and dozens of calls. If you want to be involved in the conversation, the least you can do is pay attention, dumbass.

  5. Jeez. Learn how to take criticism, fella.

    I was paying enough attention to see (in the other thread) that you called 911 because some guys were using drugs outside of your house. If you want 911 to stop being clogged, don’t clog it. It’s as simple as that.

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