Priority Calls Only

by Safety Connection

Most of us think that if we ever have to call 911, police officers will show up in a timely manner. But our police department is really struggling with low staffing levels, which often correlates with a rise in the amount of time officers spend on Priority Calls Only status.

Each day Chief Barnes puts out a blog highlighting a few noteworthy incidents of the day. At the top of each day, you can see how much time officers spent on Priority Calls Only. Yesterday (9/21/21), it was more than 3.5 hours.

That is a metric we don’t like to see, because it means officers are only dispatched to urgent calls requiring rapid police response. It also may include calls that involve one or more of the following criteria:

• Injuries requiring immediate medical attention (excluding emergency medical calls)

• Crimes in progress (excluding crimes that are referred to self-reporting)

• Incidents involving physical danger or risk to the public

• Most incidents involving firearms or other weapons

• Incidents where the potential for violence exists without police intervention

• Death investigations

Usually the Officer In Charge makes the determination to go Priority Only, although occasionally another supervisor makes the call. Then it becomes a function of the county-wide 911 dispatch center as they triage the calls.

Officers will not be sent to help a homeowner who was burglarized, or to a crash without significant injuries. If the call does not meet the Priority Only level, the call will just stay in the queue until there are enough officers to resume routine calls for service.

You can view the MPD’s standard operating procedure for priority calls here.

And you can view and subscribe to the Police Chief’s blog here.

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