When someone started shooting near an Indianapolis park in January, a nearby family center’s staff called 911 and waited on hold for two minutes before talking to a police dispatcher. When the shooters didn’t leave the area, the center’s manager locked the doors so about three dozen youths could hunker down inside until police arrived. It took about 20 minutes for police to get there, says the Indianapolis Star.
Since the city and county police forces merged into the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department on Jan. 1, average response times have slowed compared to those in the old Indianapolis Police Department. In February, a month with unusually heavy snow, the merged department’s average response time was eight minutes, 32 seconds. That’s two minutes and 40 seconds slower than the Indianapolis police average in February 2006. Beat officers say they are being asked to answer too many low-priority calls as the result of new policies adopted since the merger. The union chief blames an overall shortage of officers. Officer Bruce Smith said part of the problem is that he and fellow officers must answer calls that used to be handled by civilians. Calls involving runaway children have taken up a lot of officers’ time. One official said that, “Often, runaways become victims of crime or suspects in crime. It is important for officers to know who the runaways are on their beat.”