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Tulsa Police and City of Tulsa respond to complaints about long 911 wait times

Posted: 5:17 PM, Feb 08, 2017
Updated: 2017-02-09 12:10:32-05

TULSA - Amanda Duenner says she called 911 two times last week, and she was alarmed by the response. 

Duenner says her family car was hit by a drunk driver on Wednesday, and while the fire department and EMSA showed up right away, she says the police didn't. 

“If this is their response time, what is it when it’s something extremely critical?" Duenner said. 

Then the next day she called the police for another incident. This time, she said no one answered. So she hung up and tried to handle the situation herself. 

Then, she said she had to let city officials know how unsafe she felt, so she emailed them.

The response she got was the average wait time for a dispatcher was three minutes when she called.

"Three minutes to answer a call is definitely a critical time between life and death for someone.” Duenner said.

The 911 Center's Director Terry O'Malley responded, "A 3-minute wait time is not what we want for Tulsa."

She said people misuse 911 all the time. Many people call by accident clogging up the lines, while others call for non-emergencies. 

She also said the center needs to fill its 19 vacancies to answer its 1600 calls a day. 

Sergeant Shane Tuell with the Tulsa Police Department said its force also has about 100 vacancies. 

It has an authorized strength of 742 officers, but only has 697 working. And not all of them are on the streets for one reason or another. 

He said many officers are going call-to-call, but most of the time that isn't enough to get to all of them.

Tuell says it needs more people in its recruitment classes and more money to hire officers, to start.

The City of Tulsa says it allots 61% of budget to public safety.

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