SLPD responds to concerns about the time officers take to arrive to a scene
The time it takes for officers from the Salt Lake Police Department to respond to an emergency have been increasing. As of August 21, the response time by the department for a priority one call was a little over 17 minutes compared to 11 minutes in January of this year.
The department was recently questioned about response time following the shooting of University of Utah football player Aaron Lowe.
“So, response time is very complex,” said Michael Ruff.
Salt Lake Police Department Detective Michael Ruff said response time to all types of calls is something the department is constantly monitoring.
“‘There's five people that work in an analyst unit who monitor all kinds of crime trends,” said Ruff.
A priority one call could involve a shooting or robbery in progress. An assault or vandalism incident is considered a priority two call if the crime against a person is reported within five minutes. After that it becomes a priority three incident. To be considered a priority two call, a crime involving property must have happened within15 minutes of a call, otherwise it is considered a priority three. Noise complaints are considered a priority four.
“We're down between 50 and 55 officers from our maximum staffing," said Ruff. "So, the city council authorized Salt Lake City Police Department, if we are fully staffed and have every position from the chief all the way down to build for officers, we would have 571 officers."
Ruff said staffing is one of the obstacles the department faces but, he added, when it comes to adequate response times those officers who are on duty have a lot to consider when prioritizing a call.
“It's partially staffing, it's partially the types of calls that come in, how many come in, it's just something where there's not one thing you can put your finger on,” said Ruff.
In July city officials approved pay raises for the department. Ruff said this has helped with officer retention and attracting new candidates but adds there are still hiring obstacles to overcome that could help improve the department’s incident response times.