Mpls. asked for more 911 operatorsby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
MINNEAPOLIS — The director of Minneapolis emergency communications told members of the City Council Tuesday morning that the department needs more 911 operators to keep up with national standards.
Heather Hunt said independent studies show that with five more full-time staff, the city can reach a benchmark of answering 90 percent of calls within 10 seconds. Recently, the city reinstated a phone message urging 911 callers waiting for an operator to stay on the line.
The city made the move after several people who called 911 during a recent mass shooting hung up instead of waiting for an operator. However, Hunt said operators did a good job considering the circumstances.
"We were sorely put to the test during the recent Accent Signage incident and performed in an admirable way," Hunt said. "That was a significant strain on our call takers."
The mayor's recommended budget for 911 next year is more than $170,000 less than the department projected it will need.
Hunt didn't say the department will have to cut staff if the mayor's recommended budget is adopted. However, she did say the department will have to cut overtime costs which could cause more callers to face wait times of over one minute before an operator answers their call.
Hunt said the extra five full-time employees would cost the city more than $600,000.