2NEWS Investigation prompts changes at 911 Center

A 2NEWS investigation that aired this spring, found some Tulsa 911 operators making almost double their salary when overtime was added in, and some of that OT is mandatory to make up for a shortage of employees. In fact, their staffing level for dispatchers is down by almost 20-percent right now percent.

"Your story was really the eye-opening event for me, that made me think, you know, there probably really is an issue here," said Tulsa City Councilor Bill Christiansen.

So Christiansen started a 911 taskforce. The idea is to get officials from the 911 Center, Tulsa Police Department and city leaders together to find a fix. Turns out, the shortage at the 911 Center is creating problems for officers in the field.

Normally Tulsa police officers communicate on three different radio frequencies, but sometimes there aren't enough operators to handle that many so they combine the calls to two or even one frequency.

"Normally you're only competing with the other people on your side of town for radio time, but when you have three sides of town all waiting to talk, it can delay things a little bit," said Captain Dave Roberts with the Tulsa Police Department.

Delays in the field, and delays of ten minutes or more for people calling 911.

"I would certainly pray that nothing has happened because of somebody picking up the phone and going through ten rings before they get answered and then being put on hold, as an example, for ten minutes," said Christiansen.

When we asked Tom Golliver with the 911 Center if a ten minute hold time was acceptable he said, "Oh absolutely not. No there are standards, and we try adhere to those standards and that's why our focus is putting the right number of staff members on the call-taking position."

Christiansen hopes to have a plan in place within the next couple of months. 2NEWS will continue to update the story.

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