A dashboard of information for the Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee showed 911 staff at 78% of authorized strength with 31 vacancies.
Robert Uribe, manager of the 911 call center, said hiring and training slowed during the holiday season and overtime was being used to increase staffing.
Council Member Cara Mendelsohn said she is concerned about 911 employees working too many hours. She said she heard that some employees have worked 24-hour shifts.
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Uribe said that is not true.
“There's no one that can work 24 hours. The max they can work is 16,” Uribe said.
Mendelsohn said double shifts are still long for operators expected to greet the public. Uribe said overtime is voluntary, no one is required to work the extra hours, and more people are being hired.
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Volunteers recently added rest and recreation facilities at the call center to make it more comfortable and provide places for breaks.
The current actual 911 staff is 113 compared with as few as 60 in May of 2021. December 911 calls were answered on average within 2 seconds, very fast compared to past occasions when callers faced very long delays or never received an answer.
Monday Dallas Police also shared 2022 year end crime information with the committee and discussed the 2023 plan to keep programs going that produced crime reduction results.
Chief Eddie Garcia supported continued assignments of Neighborhood Police Officers (NPO’s) even with response time rising for patrol calls for service and violent crime as the sole focus for many officers in the department.
“I think we’re very fortunate here to have the NPO program. Coming from my former department in California, I wish we had it. We did not,” Garcia said. “They certainly help the profession, help relationship building in our community, particularly those that may not have had a high level of trust.”
Refocusing the NPO program now calls for management from headquarters instead of assigning the officers at substations. They will be asked to perform additional duties but still directed at neighborhoods and businesses.