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MPD: Faster response times
Police work to arrive at Priority One calls quicker
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 A robbery is in progress. Someone is being physically attacked. An accident with injuries has just occurred.

A call to 911 is picked up by a Manteca Police dispatcher. After determining the nature of the call and the location, officers are dispatched.

Meanwhile the dispatcher continues to get information from the caller that could be critical to the initial response as well as the officer’s safety.

In Manteca, during April, such calls took 4 minutes and 16 seconds between the time the call was initiated and an officer arrived on the scene. That’s a 30-second improvement over 2014 when it took an average of 4 minutes and 48 seconds from the time a dispatcher answers a 9-1-1 call to life threatening crime such as a robbery in progress, shooting, stabbing, assault, violent mental case or kidnapping. And that was an improvement of 11 seconds over 2013 average response times.

Still, 4 minutes and 16 seconds may sound like a lot but compared to some nearby jurisdictions it isn’t. In Modesto based on a 2004 report for Stanislaus County emergency services, it took between 5.5 and 6.5 minutes from the time call was received and for an officer to arrive on the scene when it came to Priority One calls where lives could be at stake.

In Turlock — a city just 2,000 residents smaller than Manteca — the 2013 Priority One response time average was 7 minutes and 36 seconds during 2013.

Manteca’s response times for calls that require red lights and sirens is in-line with the San Ramon Police Department with 62 sworn officers that serves a community of 74,000 — 1,000 more residents that Manteca. In 2011, San Ramon’s response time was 4 minutes and 25 seconds.

Priority two calls in Manteca in 2014 had an average response time of 19:29 minutes compared to 17:57 minutes in 2013. Priority three calls took an average 37:15 minutes in 2014 for a response that is usually handled by a community service officer and not a sworn-officer. Priority three calls can also be handled with inline reporting if a citizen so chooses.

Manteca’s dispatchers last year handled 33,633 calls. That is in addition to communicating with officers and handling other tasks that requires them to monitor six screens concurrently. And if an officer takes longer than you want to respond to a second or third priority call that means they are dealing with life and safety situations or else may be handling a call ahead of yours.

Sometimes callers complain that they aren’t having their non-emergency calls answered quick enough. That is because dispatchers may be in the middle of higher priority concerns such as 911 calls where life or safety is at risk.

“Sometimes people get frustrated with the questions dispatchers ask,” noted Police Chief Nick Obligacion said. “But they are doing so to get the correct response and to assure officer safety and the public’s safety.”

Dispatchers may ask for more specific descriptions of cars and individuals so responding officers know exactly what they are dealing with when they arrive.

The chief said callers when asked for details sometimes don’t understand why they are needed.

“If a caller says a suspect has a knife it is important that we know whether it is a fixed blade that could be 10 inches or a folding knife,” Obligacion said.

While 911 calls have been going to Manteca dispatch if they are placed within the city limits for a number of years, they don’t give an exact address which is why dispatchers will ask for addresses.

Obligacion said calls from phone landlines will bring up the actual address on the dispatch 911 screen, noting where the call is originating. Technology is used to get the general location of a cell caller in relation to a cell tower. However, it is in longitude and latitude hence the request for addresses to speed response times

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email