Police chiefs: Delayed 911 responses putting public at risk - abc27 WHTM

Police chiefs: Delayed 911 responses putting public at risk

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Police chiefs in Cumberland County told commissioners in a meeting Wednesday that public safety is at risk.

They outlined concerns that it is taking county 911 dispatchers a long time to respond to police officers' calls and traffic stops. They said this could mean longer response times for people in the community, and potentially dangerous situations for officers.

"Every time we stop somebody, it's a Russian roulette for our police officers on the road," Shippensburg Police Chief Fred Scott said. "We don't know what we're stopping."

"This guy may have robbed somebody," Scott continued, "may have just committed a crime or whatever, and so he jumps out of the car, the county doesn't know we stopped him, they don't have any registration, don't have any make, nobody knows where we're at. That's the lifeline."

ABC 27 rode along with Carlisle police. Officers told us it used to take dispatch 30 seconds to get back to them with information about drivers they would pull over. When we went out with them Wednesday, it took six minutes. Police say that's not good in situations that make every second count.

"If police officers are experiencing delays, it's very possible the citizens could also be experiencing delays in having their calls answered," Carlisle Police Chief Stephen Margeson said.

In the weeks since Carlisle joined Cumberland County 911, Margeson said calls have gone up more than 30 percent. However, the county has not hired new dispatchers.

During Wednesday's meeting, the commissioners looked at several possible solutions.

"We currently do not have part-time employees," Commissioner Barbara Cross said, "so that would be a complement that would come in as a change, something different, and I'm certainly open and receptive to hearing those options come from human resource."

But the commissioners pointed out there are still things to consider.

"The first step in solving a problem is making sure you're addressing the correct problem," Commissioner Gary Eichelberger said. "We have some analysis to do yet. We're going to take back what we got today and we're going to hash that out pretty well."

"I didn't realize until today that this was something that impacted a number of departments in the western part of the county," Commissioner Jim Hertzler said. "Interestingly, we haven't heard any concerns voiced from the eastern part of the county."

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