A dramatic increase in cell phone calls and too few dispatchers have 911 officials in Indianapolis’ Marion County ready to declare their own emergency, says the Indianapolis Star. During the busiest times at the communications center, as many as one of every five callers to 911 is hanging up before a dispatcher can take the call. “That’s outrageous,” said Marion County Sheriff Maj. Richard Gates. Many missed calls are probably misdials and nonemergencies, but one unanswered emergency is one too many, he said.
Gates requested 25 additional dispatchers, at a cost of $963,000, but the City-County Council rejected that request along with Sheriff Frank Anderson’s plea for more road deputies. Budgeted for 63 dispatchers, the call center can’t keep the positions filled, Gates said. Communications officials say dispatcher wages are part of the problem. The starting salary is about $24,000, rising to $30,000 after five years.