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.