Police carve more than a minute — precious time — off their responses | ParkRecord.com

Police carve more than a minute — precious time — off their responses

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

The Park City Police Department in the second half of 2009 carved more than one minute off the time it takes officers to respond to a call compared to the preceding 12-month period, precious seconds that the department says makes it more likely an officer is able to intervene if a crime is underway.

The Police Department recently released the information amid City Hall’s budget talks, which have stretched since the spring and ended on Thursday with the adoption of the spending plan. The police provided the data to Mayor Dana Williams and the Park City Council in a report meant to show the efforts being made to advance the overarching goals of the elected officials.

According to the report, the police cut the average response time between July and December to 4.9 minutes. In the two previous City Hall fiscal years, which run from July 1 of a year until June 30 of the next year, the response time topped six minutes.

In the 2009 fiscal year, ending on June 30, 2009, the time sat at 6.32 minutes. The police took 6.55 minutes in the 2008 fiscal year.

Response time measures the time it takes for an officer to arrive at a scene after dispatchers receive a call. The time it takes an officer to get to an emergency situation is typically quicker than the 12-month average, which takes into account calls that are not deemed priorities.

"Those minutes that pass greatly reduce our ability to successfully investigate that case," said Phil Kirk, the police captain who oversees the department’s patrol division.

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Kirk credited the falling response time to a change in the way officers patrol Park City, with the city being divided into two sectors roughly bordered by Kearns Boulevard. Since officers generally stay in their assigned sectors, they have less distance to travel than they would if they were patrolling elsewhere, Kirk said.

"Cutting down the travel distances . . . seems to have helped," Kirk said, adding that he is "pleasantly surprised" by the reduced response time.

The report, though, indicated the percent of the calls responded to within 15 minutes — 83 percent — dropped from previous 12-month periods. The Police Department wants the percentage to be at least 90 percent. In the previous two fiscal years, the percent topped 98 percent. Kirk said the drop is a result of prioritizing responses to the calls to the police.

"Every minute seems like an hour," Kirk said, acknowledging the frustration of people waiting for the police to respond after a call.

The report to the elected officials offered some of the most detailed statistics the Police Department will release between the publication of its annual reports, which are typically distributed in the spring.

Some of the other numbers in the recent report include:

The number of calls each day to the Police Department in the second half of 2009 dropped from the previous fiscal years. In the six-month period, the police received an average of 75 calls each day. In the previous two fiscal years, an average of 88 calls each day was logged. The numbers jumped from the 61 daily calls recorded in the 2007 fiscal year, running from the middle of 2006 until mid-2007.

The Police Department had put out digital speeding trailers that display driver speeds as they pass on 40 occasions in the second half of 2009, as many as the entire preceding 12-month period and slightly more than in the 2008 fiscal year. The number, though, was not on pace to match the 157 recorded between mid-2006 and mid-2007.

The number of truancy cases soared in the last half of 2009, with 77 students suspected of skipping classes being caught. In the preceding 12 months, the police recorded 56 truancy cases.

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