Priority 2 Calls for Service Must Be Made a Priority - By Sgt. John Robb
Most large metropolitan police departments categorize their calls for service into several categories. They do this to prioritize the calls for service and more properly dispatch officers to citizen’s calls for help. In San Jose we use three primary categories.
While Priority 1 calls are responded to almost immediately, the dark horse in the room has become our response times to Priority 2 calls. Those calls have an average response time often exceeding twenty minutes (the Department’s goal is 11 minutes). Often these calls can be found pending for hours due to insufficient staffing and high calls for service volume. In a city of over one million people, San Jose now has only 450 officers regularly assigned to work patrol (down from 600). Overtime, which is often mandatory, attempts to fill the gap but with over two thousand hours of overtime being worked by patrol officers per week, fatigue is now a problem.
Initially, most citizens may discount a priority two call just because of its name. It suggests something that is not quite as important as a Priority 1. But such an assumption would be a serious mistake that no sergeant or officer can afford to make. Sergeants routinely monitor these pending calls with mounting frustration knowing delayed officer response times and pending calls will result in crimes going unsolved and suspects fleeing the scene long before officers are available to respond.
Priority 2 calls are generally typed as crimes in progress or a crime that has just occurred. They often involve citizens who have been injured or have the potential for injury and the suspect is still present in the area. These calls can often involve children, mentally disabled adults, and the elderly. They can involve serious events such as missing child under the age of 12. Other examples include, child abuse, domestic violence, missing handicapped adults, even suspects who have been arrested by citizens for violent crimes are all generally typed as Priority 2 calls for service.
How often have you driven by a traffic accident scene and observed the fire department and ambulance on scene with no police officers. In San Jose, such incidents are all too common as frustrated fireman routinely wait for a police officer’s arrival which is often delayed. Nothing is perhaps more frustrating than having the Fire Department advise they can not enter a crime scene to render medical aid until the police arrive and ensure the crime scene is safe. Yet with many of these calls pending as Priority 2 calls for service, delayed police response times equals delayed medical care for victims.