Calls for service received by Milwaukee police began rising sharply last year and is on pace to increase again this year to more than 900,000, even as the city’s crime statistics continue to plummet, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That would be well above the roughly 817,000 calls received last year, which itself was a 23 percent increase over the average for the previous four years, which all fell between 646,000 and 678,000 calls.
Despite the jump in calls, officers were dispatched to fewer calls in 2009 than in any of the previous four years. Dispatched calls also are down through the first three months of this year. With the increase in calls for service, complaints about response time are on the rise. As the police department prepares to release statistics this week that could show that crime has dropped for a 10th consecutive quarter, such cases provide a glimpse at what is happening behind the numbers and reveal a frustration among some city residents even as officials tout the falling statistics. The spike in the department’s calls for service in 2009 and early this year could be attributed to earlier problems with the computer system that monitors the calls, Police Chief Edward Flynn said. Flynn acknowledged that gauging residents’ perception of safety is far more difficult than analyzing crime statistics.