Dallas is relying on its Police Department to help fill a staffing shortage at its troubled 911 call center, the Dallas Morning News reports. The center has experienced sudden spikes in calls that have correlated with two tragic deaths and left hundreds of people on hold for emergency services. In addition to technological trouble, the mayor blamed the problem on having too few 911 operators. The police department is assigning officers to the center to help until new call takers are hired.
Assistant Police Chief Paul Stokes expects each of the department’s seven patrol divisions to assign a neighborhood police officer to the call center. Those officers will work for a period at the call center and rotate in and out as needed. Stokes said officers from the community engagement unit will fill in for the neighborhood police officers, which is what happens when one of those officers is sick or on vacation. “We’re not abandoning the neighborhood,” Stokes said. Some council members have expressed concerns about potentially losing their neighborhood police officers, who focus on crime prevention and relations with the community, to the 911 call center. “That’s putting a Band-Aid on that issue and taking away from the community,” said Adam Medrano, who chairs the public safety committee.