News : Baltimore 911 Callers Complain about Dropped Calls, Wait Times
Baltimore, MD, USA, Nov, 2017 -- Some Baltimore City residents calling 911 are upset about being put on hold and, in some cases, dropped calls.
City Council members are now focusing on fixing the problem.
Baltimore has the state's busiest 911 call center, according to the Baltimore City Fire Department. But with dozens of complaints, some City Council members wonder if enough operators are on duty to handle the volume of the calls.
"Our citizens deserve to expect when they call 911, they are going to get through," Councilman Zeke Cohen said.
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Caller complaints include getting busy signals, being put on hold and wait times. But members of the City Council's Public Safety Committee also think 911 call center staffing is inadequate.
"We just don't have the staffing we need," Councilman Brandon Scott said. "Our citizens are getting the running message that at peak times, we have more calls coming in than people to take them."
The Fire Department said the city had 35 operators on duty per shift before 2009, compared to 12 to 18 per shift now.
Currently, the average wait time is about six seconds, but wait times have been longer when numerous calls come in about fires, accidents and violent crime.
Most calls now come in by cellphone, and in some cases, tracing them and finding out exactly where help is needed has also been difficult.
"We're seeing a crisis of violence, and we need to make sure when people call 911, they are immediately connected to an operator," Cohen said.
The committee members want to talk to Mayor Catherine Pugh's office about call center staffing. The Fire Department said it has received less than 20 complaints over the past couple of years, but would welcome getting more call takers.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Friday, November 24, 2017
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