From tonight’s West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meeting at the Southwest Precinct: As previewed earlier, the leader of SPD’s 911 center was the marquee guest, and the two-dozen-plus turnout was bigger than usual. What he had to say, coming up – but first, a few West Seattle crime notes: Overall, Lt. Steve Paulsen said, car prowls and burglaries jumped back up in January after a relatively quiet December, perhaps weather-related: 147 car prowls, more than 50 burglaries. But he also noted that police have no control over what happens after they’ve made an arrest, recapping the 14 burglary arrests made in the last couple months of the year – with 13 of those suspects back on the streets now. Meantime, the precinct is taking a new community-policing-focused tack with burglaries, having detectives call or visit all burglary victims who file reports, to follow up and to introduce themselves. One more crime note: Lt. Paulsen says last month’s stabbing incident near Riverview Playfield (covered here) was not random; some concerned neighbors were in attendance hoping to find out more about that. (And if you’re wondering, no new information about the unsolved shooting death of Steve Bushaw in The Junction on February 1st.) Now, on to the 911 explanation:
Lt. Greg Schmidt leads 911 for SPD. He repeated what you’ve read here before: Don’t hesitate to call 911 if you see a crime, or think something suspicious is happening now; just call. (That’s even the official advice on the SPD webpage.)
First, some statistics:
*Last year, the 911 center got approximately 846,000 calls (read more about the center here).
*About 40 percent came from standard land-line phones, the rest from cell phones. Last year, one half of one percent came from Internet voice services such as Vonage.
*Goal for each operator: Spend between 60 and 90 seconds on any given call.
*97 percent of all calls are answered by an operator within 2 seconds.
*1.5 complaints, on average, are received each day about the operators.
Now, as for the gist of those complaints:
Crime Prevention Council leaders first contacted him to investigate complaints about 911 dispatchers allegedly being rude or curt. If that happens, Lt. Schmidt said, file a complaint, which can be done with the Customer Service Bureau, SPD’s complaint system (form here), or the mayor’s office. When complaints come in, they’re forwarded to him to review. It’s up to him to determine whether the caller was treated with the proper “dignity and respect,” and if not, he makes the call on whether the employee is disciplined. Again, the key words: “dignity and respect” for those who call to report a problem.
The most frequent complaints, he said, come from people reporting crimes that someone else already has called in. The operators already have the information and are listening for any additional details, but that can come off as impatient or rude, he acknowledged.
But again, he said, if you see something suspicious, call. Even if you’re not sure it’s guaranteed 911 fodder – let the 911 people sort it out – that’s their job.
For specifics on the best way to present information when you call 911, check out this page on the SPD website.
The West Seattle Crime Prevention Council meets the third Tuesday of each month, 7 pm, Southwest Precinct, and you are always welcome.