Workload rises for unsworn APD officers
Staffing numbers are up at the Anchorage Police Department when it comes to more officers on the streets -- but behind the scenes it's a different story.
APD Chief Justin Doll said the department is hurting when it comes to unsworn officers.
Unsworn officers include the dispatchers who answer 911 calls, as well as employees in the records section who manage police reports. They are critical when it comes to processing stolen property and evidence.
More sworn officers and higher crime rates mean more work for unsworn officers -- which in turn can mean longer wait times for the public to hear back about crimes.
APD's dispatch center is a good example of the problem. This spring the center got a much-needed $1.2 million upgrade to a new and enhanced 911 system -- but it didn't fund new dispatchers. That's a frustration for Emergency Center Communications Manager Amy Foraker.
"They've never actually given us any more additional staff and we've got a lot more officers on the streets. We have a much higher call volume than we've had in the past and it's just getting hard for us to keep up," Foraker said.
Foraker said wait times for 911 calls are averaging 20 seconds. Wait times on 311, the muni's non-emergency line, average a little less than two minutes. But everyone agrees that sometimes the wait is much longer.
"I've talked to people who are like, 'I waited 45 minutes to get through to a dispatcher,'" Doll said, referring to a 311 call. "And I believe that's true. And that's just unacceptable, it's too long."
Doll said he plans to ask the municipality to fund 20 new unsworn officer positions, which could cost $1.5 million. Doll said he doesn't know if the city has funding to hire that many new positions, but he does know the city needs more.
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